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Frequently Asked Questions Insurance

Health

  • You must request a waiver of the five-year requirement from OPM. The steps you must take are given in the FEHB Handbook at Waiver of 5-Year Enrollment Requirement - Waiver of 5-Year Enrollment Requirement.

    If your agency has buyout authority, you may not need to write to the OPM. If you think you might qualify for a waiver of the 5-year coverage requirement, contact your Human Resources Office for information. If you meet the requirements, your agency will attach a memorandum to your retirement application stating that you meet the requirements for waiver by the OPM.

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  • They can apply to suspend their coverage at any time. Annuitants can call OPM's Retirement Information Office at 1-888-767-6738 to obtain a suspension form. Callers within the local Washington, DC calling area must call 202-606-0500. Former spouses can get the form from the employing office or retirement system maintaining their enrollment. Eligible individuals must submit a completed suspension form and provide all necessary documentation to show eligibility for TRICARE or CHAMPVA during the period beginning 31 days before and ending 31 days after the date they designate as using TRICARE or CHAMPVA instead of FEHB coverage.
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  • During the annual FEHB Open Season, you may enroll, cancel an enrollment, change plans or options, and waive or begin participation in premium conversion.

    If you waived participation in premium conversion, you can change from self- and-family enrollment to a Self Only enrollment or cancel your enrollment at any time. You can make other changes during Open Season or due to certain events. Your Human Resources Office can give you more information about these events.

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  • Once Medicare becomes the primary payer, you may find that a lower cost FEHB plan is adequate for your needs, especially if you are currently enrolled in a plan's high option. Also, some plans waive deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments when Medicare is primary.
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  • Your Human Resources Office will compile your health benefits records and forward them to OPM along with your retirement application and other records. OPM will review your health benefits records to determine if you are eligible to continue your FEHB enrollment into retirement. If you are eligible, OPM will process a transfer-in action and forward you a copy of this action for your records.
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  • If you provide documentation to your retirement system that you are suspending your FEHB coverage to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you may reenroll in FEHB if you later lose or cancel your Medicare Advantage plan coverage. However, you must wait until the next Open Season to reenroll in FEHB, unless you involuntarily lose your coverage under the Medicare Advantage plan (including because the plan is discontinued or because you move outside its service area). In this case, you may reenroll from 31 days before to 60 days after you lose the Medicare Advantage plan coverage, and your reenrollment in FEHB will be effective the day after the Medicare Advantage plan coverage ends (or ended).
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  • A. In order for you to continue your health benefits enrollment into retirement, you must: (1) be entitled to retire on an immediate annuity under a retirement system for civilian employees (including the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) + 10 retirement; and (2) have been continuously enrolled (or covered as a family member) in any Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program plan(s) (not necessarily the same plan) for the five years of service immediately before the date your annuity starts, or for the full period(s) of service since your first opportunity to enroll (if less than 5 years). The 5 year requirement period can include the following: the time you are covered as a family member under another person's FEHB enrollment; or the time you are covered under the Uniformed Services Health Benefits Program (also known as TRICARE) as long as you were covered under an FEHB enrollment at the time of your retirement.
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  • Yes. You can always make changes to your plan during Open Season. In addition, you can make changes if you experience a Qualifying Life Event. For example, if you are currently married and chose a Self Plus One enrollment, in the event you divorce,  you can make a change to Self Only. Alternatively, you can change to Self and Family if you have an eligible child. Other QLEs allow you to make changes as well. You can see a list of all your QLE opportunities on the SF 2809.
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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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    • OPM's Office of Retirement Programs website. The site provides various categories of information including the questions most frequently asked by annuitants and survivor annuitants.
    • During the year, you may request information such as verification of annuity or the value of life insurance as well as make changes to your own retirement account, such as federal and state income tax withholding changes, by calling OPM on the toll-free number 1-888-767-6738, TDD for the hearing impaired 1-800-878-5707, or send email to retire@opm.gov. The automated telephone system is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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