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Insurance FAQs

Health

  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Problems arising from oral discussions are very difficult to settle later because they are impossible to prove or disprove. In contractual situations such as under the FEHB Program, oral statements can never be regarded as official and, so, we state in the brochures that oral statements made by any representative of a carrier cannot modify the benefits described in the brochure.
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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • If your agency does not pay your premiums, you must pay the employee's share of the premium during the first 12 months of coverage (just as any other employee on leave without pay). You must pay both the employee and government shares, plus an administrative charge of 2 percent of the total premium, for up to 12 additional months that you continue your coverage while on military duty.
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  • We have published a final regulation that allows current FEHB annuitants and former spouses who are eligible for these programs to suspend their FEHB coverage and premium payments. The regulation allows these individuals to reenroll in the FEHB Program during the Open Season, or immediately if they are involuntarily disenrolled from the non-FEHB coverage.
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  • When children reach age 26, they are eligible to enroll in Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC) or convert to an individual policy.  It is the responsibility of you or your child to know when he/she is no longer eligible for coverage and to apply for TCC or a conversion policy in a timely manner. Your employing office is not obligated to inform you of your child’s eligibility for TCC and conversion rights when he/she is no longer eligible for coverage. TCC: If a child loses coverage under your enrollment because he/she reaches age 26, he/she is eligible for TCC. You must contact your Human Resources Office within 60 days of your child’s 26th birthday to inform them that your child is turning age 26.  Your Human Resources Office will give you information about enrolling your child in TCC or converting your child to an individual policy.  Your child has 60 days to request enrollment for TCC from the later of (1) his/her 26th birthday or (2) the date of the TCC notice from the Human Resources Office. For more information about TCC, please review the TCC coverage pamphlet at www.opm.gov/insure/health/eligibility/tcc. Conversion: If a child loses coverage under your enrollment because he/she reaches age 26, he/she is entitled to convert to an individual policy offered by the carrier of your plan. Your child is not required to provide evidence of insurability.  To apply for conversion, you or your child must make a written request to the carrier of your plan.  You or your child must apply for conversion within 31 days after his/her 26th birthday.  For more information about conversion, please visit http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/reference/handbook/FEHB15.asp#31.
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Total Count: 488, Number of Pages: 25, Page: 3
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