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Frequently Asked Questions Insurance

Health

  • There are a number of factors for you to consider if you are employed part-time. Although you will not be eligible for the full government contribution, your entire employee contribution will be pre-tax if you participate in premium conversion. That larger reduction in taxable income might offset the lower government contribution. If you are a part-time reemployed annuitant, we suggest that you consult your agency or a qualified tax advisor to review your individual situation.
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  • The formulary for your health plan provides a list of medications that a team of health care specialists have approved. Your doctor will write a prescription based on your medical needs, but the formulary provides him with recommendations from the pharmacist and physician team. An effective formulary system provides a medication safety feature. When drugs and administration methods are systematically included (or deleted) in a controlled drug formulary, there are a number of benefits. For instance, each new drug added undergoes a peer review process that uncovers any safety concerns with the drug. Also, when drugs are systematically added to the formulary, there is adequate time to educate the staff before the drug is used. An organized formulary also ensures that the number and variety of drugs is kept to an effective minimum. There are approximately 13,000 prescription drugs on the market today and several drugs can often be used to treat the same condition. A formulary, based on safety and cost considerations, helps to limit the drugs recommended by your plan's health care professionals.
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  • Each year OPM releases the new health insurance rates about a month prior to the FEHB Open Season. The FEHB Open Season runs from the second Monday in November through the Second Monday in December. The new rates are generally released by mid-October at http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/rates/index.asp.
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  • Yes, taxes in 49 states and most localities will be reduced; exceptions include the state of New Jersey and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. OPM monitors changes in state and local tax regulations, and provides guidance to your agency as needed. Regardless of where you live, FEHB premiums are not subject to Federal taxes. FICA Taxes If you are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and participate in premium conversion, FEHB premium deductions will also be excluded from gross pay before Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Medicare taxes are applied. Employer FICA contributions will also be reduced in concert with the decrease in employee withholdings.
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  • Yes, if you experience one of the following Qualifying Life Events: You are enrolled in a FEHB Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and you (or a covered family member) move or become employed outside the geographic area from which your FEHB carrier accepts enrollments; (or, if already outside this area, you move further from this area); You lose coverage due to discontinuance in whole or part of your FEHB plan; You experience a change in your family status. (Family status changes include marriage, legal separation, divorce, death of spouse or dependent, loss of coverage by your last dependent child.)
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  • You will be covered only for emergency care. Unless your HMO has a "reciprocity" agreement with a plan in your new area that allows you to get routine care, you must travel back to your HMO for care, or change plans. You can change plans anytime after moving; contact your retirement system.
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  • While you may count the time you are covered under transitional TRICARE toward meeting the 5 year/initial opportunity requirement to continue your FEHB into retirement, you must be covered under FEHB on the day you retire. If you plan to retire during your transitional TRICARE period, you must reinstate your FEHB before your retirement date. Your Human Resources Office can assist you.
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  • Pay-As-You-Go Under the Pay-As-You-Go option, you pay your share of the FEHB premium directly to your employing agency while on LWOP. These payments will generally be made with after-tax monies, since there is no pay from which to make deductions.   Catch-Up Most employees who have a period of LWOP choose to pay their FEHB premiums via the Catch-up option. Under this option, the agency remits your share of the FEHB premium to OPM while you are on LWOP. You incur an obligation to your employing agency and are required to repay it upon your return to pay status. The repayment of the amount owed will be treated on a pre-tax basis, if it's deducted from pay and you participate in premium conversion at the time the deduction is made. If you choose to repay the amount owed to your agency directly out-of-pocket your taxable income is not reduced. Prepay Your agency may (but is not required to) offer you the option to prepay your FEHB premium from salary before you go on a period of LWOP. The amount of FEHB premiums you prepay in advance may either be deducted from your pay or paid directly "out-of-pocket" to your agency. Payments made "out-of-pocket" do not reduce taxable income. The amount of FEHB premiums that you prepay will be treated on a pre-tax basis, if it is deducted from your pay and you participate in premium conversion. IRS rules limit the amount you may prepay on a pre-tax basis. If your period of LWOP will span two tax years, the amount that you may prepay on a pre-tax basis may not exceed the amount of FEHB premiums due for the remainder of the current tax year. If you wish to prepay the amounts due for the subsequent tax year as well, the deductions must be made after-tax. You may use the "Pay-As-You-Go" or Catch-up options for amounts due in the subsequent tax year. Example Sam A. participates in premium conversion and had $100 per month in FEHB premiums deducted from his pay. He will go on LWOP for three months beginning on October 31, 2002 and opts to continue his FEHB coverage. Mr. A. uses the pre-pay option to pay from his salary the $300 in FEHB premium payments that will be due while he is on LWOP. Mr. A. will receive pre-tax treatment for only $200 of his FEHB premium prepayment- the amount he will owe for the months of November and December 2002. The remaining $100 prepaid – the amount due for January 2003 – must be given after-tax treatment.
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  • To qualify for Spouse Equity coverage, submit an application to your former spouse's Human Resources Office (or, if applicable, the former spouse's retirement system) within 60 days after your divorce. To be eligible, you must have been covered as a family member under your spouse's FEHB Program enrollment at least one day during the 18 months prior to divorce and you must have future entitlement to receive a portion of your spouse's retirement annuity or a survivor annuity. Also, if you remarry prior to age 55 you will lose this coverage. If you do not qualify under the Spouse Equity provisions, you may be eligible for coverage under the Temporary Continuation of Coverage provisions. You may also convert to a private policy.
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  • You can reenroll in the FEHB Program for any reason during a future Open Season. If you are involuntarily disenrolled from TRICARE or CHAMPVA, you are eligible to immediately reenroll in the FEHB Program. Your request to reenroll must be received within the period beginning 31 days before and ending 60 days after your TRICARE or CHAMPVA coverage ends. Otherwise, you must wait until Open Season.
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