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Healthcare Reference Materials

Military Service

Entry into Military Service

30 days or Less

If you enter one of the uniformed services for 30 days or less, your FEHB enrollment will continue without change. Withholdings and Government contributions will also continue, as long as you are in pay status or until your military orders are changed so that your period of duty is more than 30 days.

More than 30 Days

If you enter on active duty or active duty for training in one of the uniformed services for more than 30 days, you may continue your FEHB enrollment for up to 24 months. Or, you may elect to terminate your enrollment, effective the day before entering active duty.

If you terminate your enrollment, your employing office must promptly process a Notice of Change in Health Benefits Enrollment (SF 2810) to notify your health benefits carrier that you ended the enrollment.

If you keep your FEHB enrollment during military service, you may continue your enrollment for up to 12 months while you are on military duty. You are responsible for the enrollee share of the premium during this period, just like any other employee in leave without pay status. Current Federal law extends the 12-month period an additional 12 months. During this additional period, you must pay both the employee and the Government shares of the premium, plus an additional 2 percent of the total premium, on a current basis.

Your employing office may waive the requirement that you pay your share of FEHB premiums during all or any part of the 24-month period. If your employing office waives the premium, it must remit the full premium (employee and agency share) to OPM on a current basis.

If Separated

If you are separated to enter on active military service, you are considered to be on military furlough (in leave without pay status) for the 24-month period if you continue to be eligible for reemployment rights under 5 CFR Part 353 or similar authority. You are entitled to continued coverage for up to 12 months in leave without pay status whether or not your eligibility for reemployment rights continues. To be entitled to the additional 12 months of coverage, you must continue to be eligible for reemployment rights.

Notice Required

If you enter military service for more than 30 days, your employing office must give you a notice explaining that your enrollment may continue for up to 24 months and that you are responsible for the employee share of the premiums for the first 12 months and for 102 percent of the premium afterwards. It must also explain that you must notify your employing office in writing if you terminate your enrollment for the period of your military service.

Termination

If you elect to terminate your enrollment, it must terminate effective the day you are separated, furloughed, or placed on leave of absence for entering military service. This applies even if part of your military service is covered by paid leave immediately followed by furlough or other leave without pay. You and your covered family members are entitled to a 31-day extension of coverage and to convert to an individual contract.

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Return from Military Service After Enrollment Termination

Not in Exercise of Reemployment Rights

If you return from military duty after your enrollment terminated, but not in the exercise of reemployment rights, you must (if eligible for coverage) elect to enroll within 60 days after returning to civilian duty, the same as a new employee. You may elect to enroll for Self Only or for Self and Family in either option of any plan available.

In Exercise of Reemployment Rights

If you exercise reemployment rights upon returning from military duty, your terminated enrollment will be reinstated on the Notice of Change in Health Benefits Enrollment (SF 2810), effective on the day you return to civilian duty. Your employing office will show in the Remarks section of the reinstating SF 2810 that a previously terminated enrollment is being reinstated because of return from military service.

Your reinstated enrollment is effective on the day you return to civilian duty (the same date of the restoration action shown on SF 50, Notification of Personnel Action) and is not retroactive to the date you separated from military service. If there is a gap between your separation from military service and return to active civilian duty, there will also be a gap in health benefits coverage because coverage under the Uniformed Services Health Benefits Program generally ends on the day of discharge without any extension of coverage.

If you return to civilian duty in the exercise of reemployment rights, you may change your reinstated enrollment from Self Only to Self and Family, and to either option of any plan available, within 60 days after you return to civilian service. If you weren't enrolled when you entered military duty, you may enroll within 60 days after your return to civilian service. Your election becomes effective on the first day of the pay period that begins after your employing office receives your completed enrollment request and that follows a pay period during any part of which you were in pay status.

Transitional Healthcare Benefits

If you exercise reemployment rights upon returning from military duty, you may be eligible to waive reinstatement of your terminated FEHB enrollment and keep your military health coverage (TRICARE) for 180 days after you are demobilized.

Former active duty and Reserve Component members who are eligible for transitional benefits include:

  • Members involuntarily separating from active duty under honorable conditions and their eligible family members
  • Reserve Component members separated from active duty after being called up or ordered in support of a contingency operation for an active duty period of more than 30 days and their family members.
  • Members separated from active duty after being involuntary retained in support of a contingency operation and their family members
  • Members separated from active duty following a voluntary agreement to stay on active duty for less than one year in support of a contingency operation and their family members

Employees may ask their agencies to postpone reinstatement of their FEHB coverage from the day they are restored to their civilian positions until the day after their transitional TRICARE coverage ends, or any date within this timeframe.

If You Die

If you die after your Self and Family enrollment was terminated or suspended upon your entry into military service, and your family members are entitled to an annuity or to a basic employee death benefit under the Federal Employees Retirement System, your family members may have the enrollment reinstated effective on the day after your death. Your family members also may change the enrollment just as if you were returning to civilian duty in the exercise of reemployment rights.

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If You Retire

If your enrollment was terminated and you:

  • retire on an immediate annuity without having returned to duty; and
  • meet the participation requirements for continuing coverage as a retiree,

you may request reinstatement of your enrollment within 60 days after your retirement, regardless of whether you are still on active military duty. If you don't request reinstatement, the retirement system will automatically reinstate your enrollment when your military service ends.

Continuous Enrollment

For purposes of eligibility to continue enrollment after retirement, you are considered to have had continuous enrollment if your enrollment terminated for military service and:

  • it is reinstated when you return to civilian duty;
  • you reenroll within 60 days after returning to civilian duty; or
  • you retire on an immediate annuity without returning to civilian duty.

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Military Service During Persian Gulf War

If you were ordered to active military duty in support of the Persian Gulf War before September 1, 1995, you weren't required to pay the employee share of premiums if you continued your enrollment while on military furlough (leave without pay). You were eligible if you were called into active military service for at least 31 days and remained on your employing office's rolls in a military furlough status in accordance with the provisions of 5 CFR 353 or similar authority, and your military orders were issued under the authority of section 688 or sections 12301, 12302, 12304, 12306, or 12307 (formerly sections 672, 673, 673b, 674, and 675) of title 10, United States Code.

After 365 days in leave without pay status, these enrollments terminated, subject to the 31-day extension of coverage and conversion rights. Like other terminations of enrollment after 365 days in leave without pay status, there was no entitlement to temporary continuation of coverage.

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In Support of Contingency Operations

Federal employees called or ordered to active duty for more than 30 days, can keep their FEHB coverage for up to 24 months. FEHB law allows employees called to active duty to continue their enrollment for up to 365 days while on military duty. Current Federal law extends the period of FEHB eligibility an additional 12 months, during which the reservist is responsible for paying both the agency and employee shares of the premium, plus an additional 2 percent administrative processing fee.

Federal law allows the employing agency the authority to waive the requirement that employees pay their share of FEHB premiums during all or any part of the 24-month period, if eligibility requirements are met. In order to be eligible for payment of the employee's share of the FEHB premium, the employee must:

  • Be enrolled in an FEHB plan
  • Be a member of a reserve component of the armed forces
  • Be called or ordered to active duty in support of a contingency operation (as defined in section 101(a)(13) of title 10 USC.
  • Be placed on leave without pay or separated from service to perform active duty.
  • Serve on active duty for a period of more than 30 consecutive days

If the employing agency waives collection of the employee share of the FEHB premium, it must remit the full premium (employee and agency share) to OPM on a current basis.

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