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Insurance FAQs

Health

  • If you are an annuitant or an employee who waived premium conversion, you can change from a Self and Family enrollment to a Self Only enrollment at any time. If you are an employee, your youngest child turning age 26 is a qualifying life event (QLE) permitting you to change your FEHB enrollment outside of Open Season.  With this QLE, you can change from Self and Family to Self Only coverage.  You do not need to wait until the next Open Season to make this change; however, you need to request the change to Self Only coverage within 60 days of your child turning 26.
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  • By regulation, an employee who does not change the enrollment during the Open Season is considered to have canceled the plan in which enrolled. The cancellation is effective the day before the first day of the first full pay period in January. The plan is responsible for providing coverage only through midnight of that date. If you're not sure of the date, you should contact your Human Resources Office and not the plan for the effective date. You should be aware that you are not entitled to a 31-day extension of coverage because the action is considered a cancellation and not a termination. You cannot reenroll in the FEHB Program until the next open season. Also, this is considered a break in coverage. The 5-year requirement to continue your enrollment into retirement will begin when you reenroll in the FEHB Program. If you are within five years of retirement, you will have to work additional time to be eligible to continue your enrollment into retirement. If you are an annuitant, you are deemed to have enrolled in the standard option of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) Service Benefit Plan. OPM deems annuitants into the standard option of BCBS by default (and by law) if they do not make a plan selection. If annuitants cancel their FEHB enrollment, they can never reenroll.
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  • First, call your plan. If they tell you they haven't gotten the paperwork yet from your retirement system, you may contact your retirement system. If you are a Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuitant or a Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuitant, contact OPM at 1-888-767-6738. Before contacting your retirement system, have your annuity information ready: your name, civil service annuity number (beginning with CSA or CSF), phone number and address, and information about your plan, such as the carrier enrollment code.
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  • The small reduction in Social Security benefits is greatly outweighed by the much larger tax savings. In each case we tested, the increase in take-home pay far exceeded the minor loss in monthly Social Security benefits. Here is a simple formula you can use to estimate the difference in your Social Security benefit:
    1. Take the number of years you will participate in premium conversion (from now until your estimated retirement) and divide by 35.
    2. Multiply this by your current annual FEHB premium
    3. Multiply the result of Step 2 by the marginal SSA rate (15% for most Federal employees)
    The result is the annual loss of Social Security benefits. (# of Years of Premium Conversion /35) X Annual FEHB Premium X marginal SSA rate = Annual Loss Example You participate in FERS. We assume that you've had a full career of FICA contributions, with an ending salary (today) of $50,000 and projected retirement at age 66 in January 2016. Your estimated Social Security benefit equals $1,414 per month. You begin participating in premium conversion and reduce your taxable income by $2,000, the amount of your FEHB premium. By changing your salary to $48,000, your monthly Social Security benefit is now $1,403, an $11.00 per month difference in today's dollars. 15/35= .4286 X 2000 = 857 X .15 = 128/12 = 10.71 or 11 Compare that to the estimated $67 increase in take home pay per month. For more specific information on how the Social Security benefit is calculated, refer to www.ssa.gov.
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  • The Open Season dates are set by Federal regulation 5 C.F.R. § 890.301(f), available at http://law.justia.com/us/cfr/title05/5-2.0.1.1.32.3.143.1.html. Each year OPM provides an Open Season from the Monday of the second full workweek in November through the Monday of the second full workweek in December.
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  • You can find the Guide to Federal Benefits (RI 70-5) that lists the premiums for TCC at http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/planinfo/guides/index.asp.
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  • Because the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) administers the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program, the largest employer-sponsored health insurance program in the world, we believe we have a commitment to you. Following are the standards we follow:
    • Your choice of health benefits plans will compare favorably for value and selection with the private sector.  
    • When you use the Guide to Federal Benefits and plan benefit brochures, you will find they are clear, factual and give you the information you need.  
    • When you change plans or options, your new plan will issue your identification card within 15 calendar days after it gets your enrollment form from your agency or retirement system.  
    • Your fee-for-service plan should pay your claims within 20 work days; if more information is needed, it should pay within 60 calendar days.  
    • If you ask us to review a claim dispute with your plan, our decision will be fair and easy to understand, and we'll send it to you within 60 calendar days. If you need to do more before we can review a claim dispute, we will tell you within 14 work days what you still need to do.  
    • When you write to us about other matters, we will respond within 30 calendar days after we get your letter. If we need time to give you a complete response, we will let you know.
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  • We ensure that the plans provide the benefits described in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program brochures. The health plans often make Preferred Provider Agreements and other arrangements with providers which are contractual arrangements between the carriers and the providers. Because of the discounts that a plan realizes through its contracts with PPO providers, the plan is able to reimburse a higher percentage of the negotiated PPO allowance when PPO providers are utilized. It would not be cost effective for the plan to reimburse at the higher level when the provider is not giving a discount. Furthermore, much of the benefit you receive from using PPO providers comes from the PPO provider's agreement not to bill you for more than the negotiated PPO allowance. Non-PPO providers are under no such obligation. In some areas of the country, it is much more difficult for a plan to arrange PPO contracts for all types of services. In areas where there are no PPO providers, you can still receive your plan's regular benefits, as opposed to the incentivized PPO benefit. If you are overseas, check with your plan to see how they pay the claims of non-PPO providers – some plans have special reimbursement allowances for overseas claims.
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    • Self Only                                                                                                                                                      
    • Self and Family
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  • As long as you have a Self and Family enrollment and one of the family members is entitled to a survivor annuity, the children are eligible for FEHB coverage until they reach age 26 or until no survivor is eligible for a survivor annuity. Children age 26 or over are eligible to continue FEHB coverage if they are incapable of self-support because of a mental or physical disability that existed before age 26. 
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  • The TAMP is the Transitional Assistance Management Program, and it offers transitional TRICARE eligibility to certain separating active duty members and their eligible family members for 180 days. Your Human Resources Office can assist you in determining if you are eligible for transitional TRICARE under the TAMP.
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  • Valium is a brand name drug whose generic counterpart is Diazepam. On the other hand, Amoxicillin is a generic drug of the brand drug Trimox.
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  • If you are under premium conversion (see www.opm.gov/insure/health/faq/premconversion/index.asp), IRS rules govern when you may cancel your FEHB. You may cancel within 60 days of the date you are restored to a civilian position or have another Qualifying Life Event that permits cancellation (see Health Benefits Election Form, SF 2809, at www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf2809.pdf [848 KB]), or during the next FEHB Open Season. If you are not under premium conversion, you may cancel at any time. In either case, you should be aware of the consequences of cancellation as described in the following question.
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  • Your grandchild may be eligible for FEHB coverage if he/she meets the eligibility requirements for foster children. These requirements are:
    • the child must be under age 26 (if the child is over age 26, he/she must be incapable of self support due to a disability that existed before age 26);
    • the child must currently live with you;
    • the parent-child relationship must be with you, not the child's biological parent;
    • you must currently be the primary source of financial support for the child; and
    • you must expect to raise the child to adulthood.
    For your grandchild to be covered under your FEHB enrollment, you must sign a certification stating that your grandchild meets all the requirements and that you will notify your employing office if the child moves out of the home or stops being financially dependent on you. You submit this certification to your employing office for their determination that your grandchild meets these requirements. Your employing office will then notify your FEHB plan that your grandchild should be added to your enrollment.
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  • The former spouses that the regulation applies to are those of civilian Federal employees and annuitants as defined under the Civil Service Retirement Spouse Equity Act of 1984 (Public Law 98-615). The regulation does not apply to "unremarried former spouses" under TRICARE law (title 10 USC). See also the chapter on former spouses in the FEHB Handbook.
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  • Yes, Qualifying Life Events (QLE).
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  • During the FEHB Open Season, you may: enroll in any health benefit plan for which you are eligible; change from one plan, option, or type of enrollment to another;. cancel your enrollment; Change your pre-tax waiver status.
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  • Be careful. Such a cancellation would be permanent. Annuitants cannot re-enroll in the program except under very limited circumstances, such as to enroll in a Medicare-sponsored health plan, as described below, or TRICARE. Another exception is if your spouse is also a Federal employee and you cancel to be covered by your spouse's FEHB plan. Further, neither you nor your family members would be eligible for continued coverage nor would you be able to convert your coverage to a private non-group policy. Do not drop out of the program unless you are sure of being able to re-enroll.
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  • Medicare has two new provisions: Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D (Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage). Part C: You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan to get your Medicare benefits. Medicare Advantage is the term used to describe the various private health plan choices available to Medicare beneficiaries. Part D: There is a monthly premium for Part D coverage. Most Federal employees do not need to enroll in the Medicare drug program, since all Federal Employees Health Benefits Program plans will have prescription drug benefits that are at least equal to the standard Medicare prescription drug coverage. Still, you may want to be aware of the benefits Medicare is offering, so you can help others make informed decisions. If you have limited savings and a low income, you may be eligible for Medicare's Low-Income Benefits. For people with limited income and resources, extra help in paying for a Medicare prescription drug plan is available. Information regarding this program is available through the Social Security Administration (SSA). For more information about this extra help, visit SSA online at www.ssa.gov, or call them at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
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  • As long as the annuitant was enrolled in Self and Family coverage when he/she suspended FEHB coverage and made arrangements to leave a survivor annuity, the survivor annuitant can reenroll in the FEHB Program under the same conditions as an annuitant.
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Total Count: 488, Number of Pages: 25, Page: 8
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