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Frequently Asked Questions Insurance

Health

  • You must request a waiver of the five-year requirement from OPM. The steps you must take are given in the FEHB Handbook at Waiver of 5-Year Enrollment Requirement - Waiver of 5-Year Enrollment Requirement. If your agency has buyout authority, you may not need to write to the OPM. If you think you might qualify for a waiver of the 5-year coverage requirement, contact your Human Resources Office for information. If you meet the requirements, your agency will attach a memorandum to your retirement application stating that you meet the requirements for waiver by the OPM.
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  • During the annual Open Season, OPM sends Open Season material to all those enrolled in the FEHBP plus those who have suspended their enrollments to enroll in a Medicare-sponsored plan approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), formerly the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) and to enroll in TRICARE.
    • OPM provides Open Season Express, an operator supported toll-free telephone service for retirees to call to request brochures, health benefits satisfaction surveys, and make enrollment changes using telephone technology. The phone number is 1 (800) 332-9798.
    • OPM also provides an interactive Open Season website at retireefehb.opm.gov/.
    • There are other events that allow retirees or their survivors to make enrollment changes -- such as a move out of the service area of an HMO, enrollment in Medicare, or a change in marital status. These events are given in the FEHB Handbook. During the year, annuitants should call OPM on the toll-free number 1-888-767-6738, TDD for the hearing impaired 1-800-878-5707, or send email to retire@opm.gov. Annuitants in the Washington DC local calling area should dial (202) 606-0500, or (202) 606-0551 for the hearing impaired.
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  • When you retire, you are entitled to the full government contribution.
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  • The effective date of the Open Season change is the first day of the first full pay period in January. For annuitants this date will always be January 1.
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  • Yes, if you are eligible for this TRICARE program, you can suspend your FEHB coverage.
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  • If the documentation showing your eligibility for TRICARE is received within the period beginning 31 days before and ending 31 days after the date you designate as the day you want to use TRICARE or CHAMPVA instead of FEHB coverage, the suspension becomes effective at the end of the day before the day you designated. Otherwise, the suspension becomes effective at the end of the month in which we receive your documentation.
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  • The employing office bills you for each pay period (generally each month) you are covered.
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  • You can change most "discretionary" personnel and payroll transactions, including your:
    • Financial allotments
    • Savings bonds
    • Health benefits
    • Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
    • Direct deposit
    • Federal and state tax withholdings
    • Your home address
    • Combined Federal Campaign (CFC)
    • Your Employee Express PIN
    • New! -- You can also get a copy of your Leave and Earnings Statement for the current pay period and two previous pay periods.
    (You can't change your life insurance on Employee Express.) Contact your Human Resources Office to find out what other services your agency may provide through Employee Express.
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  • The Help Desk:
    • Tells you what transactions you can do (link to question #4) and how to do them using Employee Express;
    • Gives numbers for the Employee Express phone system;
    • Gives locations for touch screens (kiosks) and contacts for Human Resources Offices;
    • Gives the Employee Express email address;
    • Issues new PINs
    • Automatically sends a verification letter to you for health benefits changes you make in Employee Express. (For paperwork on other changes, contact your Human Resources Office.)
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  • During the fall of each year, you will receive a copy of the Medicare & You handbook. It is also available by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or TTY 1-877-486-2048, or at www.medicare.gov/publications/pubs/pdf/10050.pdf . The Medicare & You handbook has information on Medicare Parts A & B; Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C); Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D); Help for People with Limited Income and Resources; and Joining and Switching Plans. The Medicare website (www.medicare.gov) contains the handbook and other information about Medicare. If you do not have a personal computer, your local library or senior center may be able to help you access this website. You should contact your retirement system before making any change to your coverage, especially if you are considering suspending your FEHB coverage to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you are a CSRS or FERS annuitant, you may call OPM's Retirement Information Office at 1-88USOPMRET (1-888-767-6738) or 202-606-0500 from the metropolitan Washington area, or you may write to:
    Office of Personnel Management Retirement Operations Center P.O. Box 45 Boyers, PA 16017-0045
    Other useful publications, such as the Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare, are also available at the Medicare number (1-800-633-4227) or from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counseling office. The SHIP counselors in your state are also available by telephone or sometimes as a walk-in resource if you would like more personalized attention. You can find SHIP counseling office telephone numbers in the Medicare & You handbook or on the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov/contacts/static/allStateContacts.asp. Your FEHB plan brochure provides specific information on how its benefits are coordinated with Medicare. Some HMOs participating in the FEHB are structured to provide more comprehensive coverage if you enroll in both their HMO and their Medicare Advantage plan.
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