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Frequently Asked Questions Insurance

Health

  • 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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  • 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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  • The National Defense Authorization Act for 2001 (Act) extended TRICARE pharmacy coverage to uniformed services Medicare eligible retirees, spouses, and survivors on April 1, 2001. Now uniformed services beneficiaries can get comprehensive prescription drug coverage through TRICARE's retail, mail order, or military treatment facility pharmacies. The Act also reinstated eligibility for TRICARE medical benefits for these beneficiaries on October 1, 2001. Beneficiaries with Medicare Parts A and B are now eligible to use TRICARE coverage for physician, hospital, surgical, and pharmaceutical services.
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  • Under CSRS offset, your Social Security benefits would be slightly reduced, but your CSRS Offset benefits would be increased by almost the same amount. Participating in premium conversion is most likely a benefit to you.
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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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  • No. When you lose FEHB coverage other than by cancellation (including cancellation by nonpayment of premiums) you have a 31-day temporary extension of coverage, at no cost. This coverage is provided in the same enrollment category so you may convert to an individual contract with your current health benefits plan. Please review the Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC) pamphlet. www.opm.gov/insure/health/eligibility/tcc
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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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  • Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC) is available to: (1) employees who lose their FEHB Program coverage because they leave their Federal jobs, (2) children who lose their FEHB Program family member status because they reach age 26, and (3) former spouses who lose their FEHB Program family member status because of divorce or annulment. TCC allows former employees to continue their FEHB Program coverage for up to 18 months, and former family members (children and former spouses) to continue FEHB Program coverage for up to 36 months. For more information about TCC, please review the TCC pamphlet at www.opm.gov/insure/health/eligibility/tcc/index.asp.

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  • Most health maintenance organizations (HMO) restrict enrollment to an area where its doctors and hospitals are accessible. Although some HMOs do not have restrictions on where you live or work, please recognize that if you later find it is inconvenient to get to a plan provider, you may have to wait until the next Open Season to change plans.
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  • Medicare beneficiaries may enroll in Original Medicare (Parts A and B) or choose to get their benefits from an array of Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) plan options. Depending on where you live, Part C options may include Medicare Advantage Plans that are approved by Medicare but run by private companies. Medicare Advantage plans offer Medicare Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), private fee-for-service plans (PFFS), Medicare Special Needs Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) plans.

    The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act (MMA) established a voluntary outpatient prescription drug benefit, Medicare Part D, effective January 1, 2006. Medicare enrollees are able to receive prescription drug coverage by enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan. Medicare Advantage Plans (Medicare Part C) may also offer prescription drug coverage that follows the same rules as the Medicare Part D coverage.

    Other Medicare plans include Medicare Cost Plans, demonstration/pilot programs, and PACE (Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly).

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