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Healthcare Reference Materials

Military Service

Entry into Military Service

30 days or Less

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

More than 30 Days

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

If an individual terminates the enrollment, the employing office must promptly process a Notice of Change in Health Benefits Enrollment (SF 2810) to notify the individual’s health benefits carrier that the enrollment has ended.

If he/she keeps the FEHB enrollment during military service, he/she may continue the enrollment for up to 12 months while on active military duty. The individual is 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 initial 12-month period for active military duty by an additional 12 months. During this additional 12-month period, the individual 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.

The employing office may waive the requirement that the individual pay their share of FEHB premiums during all or any part of the 24-month period. If an 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 an individual enters active duty military service or active duty training for more than 30 days, the employing office must give the individual a notice explaining that the enrollment may continue for up to 24 months and that the individual is 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 the individual must notify his/her employing office in writing if he/she terminates the enrollment for the period of his/her active duty military service.

If Separated

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

Termination

If an individual elects to terminate the enrollment, the enrollment must terminate effective the day he/she is separated, furloughed, or placed on leave of absence for entering active duty military service. This applies even if part of the individual’s military service is covered by paid leave immediately followed by furlough or other leave without pay. The individual and his/her covered family members are entitled to a 31-day extension of coverage and the right to convert to an individual contract.

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Return from Military Service After Enrollment Termination

In Exercise of Reemployment Rights

If the individual exercises reemployment rights upon returning from active military duty, the terminated enrollment will be reinstated on the Notice of Change in Health Benefits Enrollment (SF 2810), effective on the day the individual returns to civilian duty. The 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 active duty military service.

The individual’s reinstated enrollment is effective on the day of his/her 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 the individual separated from active duty military service. If there is a gap between the separation from active duty 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 an individual returns to civilian duty in the exercise of reemployment rights, he/she may change the reinstated enrollment to Self Only, Self Plus One or Self and Family, and to any option of any plan available, within 60 days after the return to civilian service. If the individual wasn't enrolled when entering active military duty, he/she may enroll within 60 days after the return to civilian service. The individual's election becomes effective on the first day of the pay period that begins after the employing office receives a completed enrollment request and that follows a pay period during any part of which the individual was in pay status.

Not in Exercise of Reemployment Rights

If an individual returns from active military duty after his/her enrollment has been terminated, but not in the exercise of reemployment rights, the individual must (if eligible for coverage) elect to enroll within 60 days after returning to civilian duty, the same as a new employee. The individual may elect to enroll in Self Only, Self Plus One or Self and Family in any option of any plan available.

Transitional Healthcare Benefits

If an individual exercises reemployment rights upon returning from military duty, he/she may be eligible to waive reinstatement of the terminated FEHB enrollment and keep his/her military health coverage (TRICARE) for 180 days after he/she is 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 an Individual Dies

If an individual dies after his/her Self Plus One or Self and Family enrollment was terminated or suspended upon the individual’s entry into military service, and the family members are entitled to an annuity or to a basic employee death benefit under the Federal Employees Retirement System, the family members may have the FEHB enrollment reinstated effective on the day after the individual’s death. Family members also may change the enrollment just as if the individual were returning to civilian duty in the exercise of reemployment rights.

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If an Individual Retires

If an individual’s enrollment was terminated and the individual:

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

an individual may request reinstatement of his/her enrollment within 60 days after his/her retirement, regardless of whether the individual is still on active military duty. If he/she doesn’t request reinstatement, the retirement system will automatically reinstate the enrollment when his/her military service ends.

Continuous Enrollment

For purposes of eligibility to continue enrollment after retirement, an individual is considered to have had continuous enrollment if the enrollment terminated for military service and:

  • it is reinstated upon the individual returning to civilian duty;
  • he/she reenrolls within 60 days after returning to civilian duty; or
  • he/she retires on an immediate annuity without returning to civilian duty.

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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 individual 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 at 10 U.S.C. § 101(a)(13);
  • be placed on leave without pay or separated from service to perform active duty; and
  • 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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