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Insurance FAQs

Health

  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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    • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • No. Employees may not suspend their coverage. However, they can cancel their coverage to use CHAMPVA, TRICARE or TRICARE-for-Life. Employees who do not participate in premium conversion may cancel their enrollment at any time. For employees who participate in premium conversion, eligibility for CHAMPVA or TRICARE is not a qualifying life event that would allow them to cancel their FEHB enrollment. These employees may cancel during any annual FEHB Open Season. If an employee who canceled FEHB coverage to use CHAMPVA, TRICARE or TRICARE-for-Life decides to return to FEHB coverage, the employee can do so during a future Open Season. If the employee loses CHAMPVA, TRICARE or TRICARE-for-Life coverage involuntarily, the employee can immediately reenroll in the FEHB Program.
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  • Employee Express is an innovative automated system that Federal employees use to make their personnel and payroll transactions electronically.
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  • The effective date of the Open Season change is the first day of the first full pay period in January. For annuitants this date will always be January 1.
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  • During the annual Open Season, OPM sends Open Season material to all those enrolled in the FEHBP plus those who have suspended their enrollments to enroll in a Medicare-sponsored plan approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), formerly the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) and to enroll in TRICARE.
    • OPM provides Open Season Express, an operator supported toll-free telephone service for retirees to call to request brochures, health benefits satisfaction surveys, and make enrollment changes using telephone technology. The phone number is 1 (800) 332-9798.
    • OPM also provides an interactive Open Season website at retireefehb.opm.gov/.
    • There are other events that allow retirees or their survivors to make enrollment changes -- such as a move out of the service area of an HMO, enrollment in Medicare, or a change in marital status. These events are given in the FEHB Handbook. During the year, annuitants should call 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. Annuitants in the Washington DC local calling area should dial (202) 606-0500, or (202) 606-0551 for the hearing impaired.
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  • You must apply within 60 days of:
    • the date your marriage ended, or
    • the date the employing office notified you that your qualifying court order (or your former spouse's election) entitled you to coverage, whichever is later.
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  • Yes, if you are eligible for this TRICARE program, you can suspend your 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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  • If the union agrees to adopt our plan, premium conversion may apply to Federal employees on LWOP to work for a union.
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  • When you retire, you are entitled to the full government contribution.
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  • Yes. There are a few things an employee should consider. First, to be eligible to continue FEHB coverage after retirement, a retiring employee must be enrolled or covered under the FEHB Program for the five years of service immediately before retirement, or, if less than five years, for all service since the first opportunity to enroll. Employees can count their coverage under TRICARE toward meeting this requirement. However, the employee must be enrolled in an FEHB health plan on the date of retirement to continue coverage. Second, if the employee dies when the cancellation is in effect, any surviving spouse will not be eligible to continue FEHB health benefits coverage.
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  • A. Yes, you will be able to reenroll in the future because you are canceling your enrollment to be covered by another FEHB enrollment.
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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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Total Count: 581, Number of Pages: 30, Page: 2
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