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Frequently Asked Questions Insurance

Health

  • 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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  • Contact your ex-spouse's agency Human Resources Office (or retirement system, if applicable) for information on how to enroll. You will need to document your eligibility. You will be required to submit a certified copy of the court order to the US Office of Personnel Management, Court Ordered Benefits Branch, P.O. Box 17, Washington DC 20044-0017. This office will review the court order to determine if you qualify to enroll. The Court Ordered Benefits Branch will issue a letter notifying you of their findings. Since it may take a few months for this notification to be sent, you should contact your former spouse's Human Resources Office and request to enroll in TCC. The notification from the Court Ordered Benefits Branch will provide instructions on enrolling under the Spouse Equity provisions of the law.
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  • Yes. There are a few things an employee should consider. First, to be eligible to continue FEHB coverage after retirement, a retiring employee must be enrolled or covered under the FEHB Program for the five years of service immediately before retirement, or, if less than five years, for all service since the first opportunity to enroll. Employees can count their coverage under TRICARE toward meeting this requirement. However, the employee must be enrolled in an FEHB health plan on the date of retirement to continue coverage. Second, if the employee dies when the cancellation is in effect, any surviving spouse will not be eligible to continue FEHB health benefits coverage.
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  • If you do not want to continue your FEHB enrollment, you must notify your employing office in writing that you wish to terminate your coverage. If you do not take action to terminate the coverage, your enrollment will continue for up to 24 months while you are on military duty.
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  • Generally, your coverage continues for 36 months from the date of your divorce or annulment, as long as you pay your premiums on time. After your TCC enrollment ends:
    • you get a 31-day extension of coverage, and
    • you may convert to an individual contract offered by your health benefits plan,
    unless you lose coverage because you canceled your enrollment or didn't pay your premiums.
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  • For a small number of individuals it may make sense to waive premium conversion. There are two items to consider in making a decision to waive participation and they are: Flexibility Under IRS rules, you may reduce coverage (cancel, or change from Self and Family to Self Only) only during an Open Season or at the time of a qualifying life event. Social Security Paying your premiums with pre-tax money reduces your earnings reported to the Social Security Administration. When you begin to collect Social Security (normally this occurs at age 65), you may receive a slightly lower Social Security benefit. The extent of the impact will vary depending upon the retirement system you participate in, your salary compared with the Social Security wage base ($87,000 in 2003) and the number of years until you retire.
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  • FedFlex, The Federal Flexible Benefits Plan , is the name of OPM's cafeteria plan. In order to offer pre-tax benefits, OPM was required to create a plan document in accordance with IRS regulations that outlines the benefits and employee choices under that plan.
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  • Information about the new TRICARE-For-Life program can be obtained by calling 1-888-DOD LIFE (1-888-363-5433) or by going to the TRICARE website at www.tricare.osd.mil.
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  • You are eligible for Medicare if you are age 65 or over. Also, certain disabled persons and persons with permanent kidney failure (or End Stage Renal Disease) are eligible. You are entitled to Part A without having to pay premiums if you or your spouse worked for at least 10 years in Medicare-covered employment. (You automatically qualify if you were a Federal employee on January 1, 1983.) If you donï't automatically qualify for Part A, and you are age 65 or older, you may be able to buy it; contact the Social Security Administration. You must pay premiums for Part B coverage, which are withheld from your monthly Social Security payment or your annuity. You must be enrolled in both Medicare Parts A and B before you can enroll in Part C. You must be enrolled in either Part A or Part B before you can enroll in Part D. The cost of any additional premium will vary depending on the Part C or Part D plan that you select.
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