By Reg Jones
Q. I am a federal employee with federal health insurance but no vision or dental insurance. I’m covered under my husband’s nonfederal vision and dental. He plans to retire in 2014. At that time, I plan to add him to my health insurance, which I have had for over five years. Can I wait to elect the federal vision and dental insurance at that time, or must I elect them during the current open season to avoid loss of coverage if my husband retires before the next open season?
Q. I was a federal law enforcement officer who retired this year under CSRS. My wife is a federal employee who will work six or seven more years. We have Blue Cross/Blue Shield-Fed as our health plan. The premiums have always been paid out of my salary. Would it be most beneficial for us to have the health coverage premiums made from my annuity or from my spouse’s salary. Would there be any negatives to having those premiums made from my spouse’s salary?
Q. I am 50 years old and have worked for the Department of the Navy for 25 years under FERS. The last five years of my career has been part time (20 hours per week). My wife has also worked for the Navy for 12 years (full time under FERS) and provides our Federal Employee Health Benefits family plan coverage. I have been covered by an FEHB plan consecutively for over 25 years. If I were offered early retirement, could I pick up the FEHB family plan coverage and carry it into retirement with me? If not, why not?
Q. I am a federal employee under CSRS enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program with self-and-family coverage for myself, my wife and my daughter (under age 26). We have been covered under the FEHB program for more than five years. My wife is also a federal employee under FERS. We also have FEDVIP vision plan coverage.
I may retire next year, which will be three years or so before my wife retires. In view of the fact that as a retiree, my FEHB premiums would no longer be deducted pretax, I am considering canceling my enrollment and having my wife enroll through her federal employment, during the current open season. Then the premiums would continue to be pretax until she retires.
However, I have some concerns about making this change.
1. Would this affect either her or me in terms of the requirement to be in the FEHB program for five years before retirement to continue coverage into retirement?
2. What documentation is required to prove participation as a covered family member?
3. Would I continue to be covered if the FEHB enrollment is through her federal employment (and later retirement) in the event that she passes away before me?
4. Would this change affect our daughter’s coverage under the plan in any way?
5. Would my wife have to provide a survivor annuity benefit for me to continue FEHB coverage if she passed first?
Are there any other considerations that I should be aware of as far as you know?
Q. I am a Postal Service employee under FERS. I am covered under a Federal Employees Health Benefits self-only plan. My wife works in the private sector and carries her own self-only coverage. I plan to retire in six years, and I know I need to be insured for five years prior. My wife cannot carry her insurance into her retirement. Do I need to carry her on my policy for five years before I retire or can I add her nearer to my retirement date?
Q. We have Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage. My husband hopes to retire within five years, and we are thinking of adding dental coverage during this open season. He understands that any change in coverage will jeopardize our carrying health coverage into retirement. Please explain how changes in coverage affect coverage in retirement.
Q. My husband recently retired under FERS. He has the Federal Employees Health Benefits family plan. I am still working and will be for at least another 10 years under FERS. If I pick up the FEHB in open season, will he be able to switch back to FEHB once the kids reach 26 and are off our health plan, so both of us could pick up single coverage (if it’s cost advantageous at that time)? Will the switch in primary recipient be considered a cancellation on his part so that he can’t re-enroll in the future, or will my husband be able to pick up self-only when the time comes?
Q. My husband and I are employed with different federal agencies. He is with the Veterans Affairs Department, and I am with the Defense Department. He has covered me under a family plan for the past 10 years. We are both preparing for retirement next year. Our daughter turned 27 this year and is no longer eligible for coverage under the family plan. So it is cheaper for each of us to elect our own self insurance plans, rather than for him to continue the family plan. If I elect a self plan this open season, and then retire next year, how will the Office of Personnel Management know that I have been covered under Federal Employees Health Benefits for the required five years? I don’t want to be stuck without coverage eligibility after I retire.
Q. I retired in 2006 from the Small Business Administration and have always had the Blue Cross/Blue Shield family plan. I carried this family plan into retirement.
My wife is also a federal employee and plans to retire in 2014. She is covered under my plan — that is, she never had an individual plan of her own.
I noticed that there is a $60-per-month difference between the family plan and two individual plans. Since my wife has been covered under my plan for more than five years, can she sign up for an individual plan during this open season and carry it into her retirement? (I would switch from a family plan to my own individual plan.)
Q. I will have been on Federal Employees Health Benefits insurance for more than five years when I retire. However, for now, I am covered by my wife’s plan, which she can’t carry into retirement (she’s a teacher). I’m enrolled as self only in a cheap plan that I don’t intend to carry into retirement. Prior to retirement, will I be able to change to a better plan and add my wife to that plan?
Q. My family got health insurance through my husband’s private-sector job for many years because the coverage was better and cheaper than the plans available to me as a federal employee. But to have health insurance coverage in retirement, we began taking insurance through Federal Employees Health Benefits instead in 2010; I enrolled during the 2010 open season in fall 2009. How exactly is “five years of service” defined? Is it 130 pay periods? Will I meet the service requirement if I stay on the payroll through pay period 26 of 2014, and then begin an immediate annuity (I will be age 60, and have 30.5 years of service)?
Q. As a currently “working” federal employee with Federal Employees Health Benefits, soon to receive Medicare and Tricare for Life, how can FEHB be eliminated from the three insurances but be reobtainable should there be a lapse in Medicare or TFL?
The situation is simple for a federal employee going into retirement: Fill out form 79-9 electing to suspend FEHB for Medicare and TFL.
Is there a form or path to do the same if a federal employee continues to “work” and wants to eliminate FEHB coverage?
I am told, if “working,” an employee must cancel FEHB. It would be retainable during a future open season. The problem is this is done over the telephone without any written documentation such as a form 79-9 for a retired worker suspending his FEHB. Is it this confusing?
I have called the Office of Personnel Management, the Army Benefits Center, my local human resources office, Medicare and TFL. They either don’t know the answer or don’t feel obligated to impart any guidance for fear of giving misleading information. Can you shed some clear guidance on my question? I am aware that, to have TFL, one must be military retired and Medicare Part B must be purchased.
What is the order of precedence with FEHB, Medicare and TFL? I am told the following:
If working: FEHB, Medicare then TFL.
If retired: Medicare, FEHB then TFL
Of course, with FEHB not in the equation, it would be only Medicare and TFL in either case, working or retired.
Q. I will be retiring with 18+ years of federal service in March at age 57 under MRA +10. I am a military retiree enrolled in Tricare Prime. I have been looking at what, if any, Federal Employees Health Benefits I should take.
I know, at age 65, I will need to get Medicare Part A. But is using something available under FEHB my best option? Since I have never been enrolled by FEHB before, I know I have to get documentation from Tricare saying I have used them for at least five years.
If I go with FEHB, can I get a family plan in consideration that my wife and I have been married for going on four years (thus, she has not been under Tricare for the minimum five-year requirement).
Q. I am 54 and my husband is 77. He is covered under my Federal Employees Health Benefits Blue Cross family plan. I am thinking of changing my plan to self-only and he to a Medicare supplemental plan. If I do this and retire next year when I’m 55, can I switch back to a family plan that covers both of us when I’m 62?
Q. I do not carry Federal Employees Health Benefits because I came to federal employment after retirement from the military and I have Tricare for Life. I have also turned 65 and have Medicare Part B. When I recently went to a retirement planning seminar, I was informed that I could sign up for FEHB during the open season this fall and then carry it into retirement in 2014. Although I would not have the five-year continuous FEHB coverage prior to retirement, I was told that having Tricare will satisfy the five-year requirement.
Further, I was told I could sign up this fall (for let’s say Blue Cross/Blue Shield), carry the insurance into retirement (planning late January/February 2014) and then either continue to carry the Blue Cross or suspend the coverage. By suspending the coverage, I could always go back and pick it up again.
Q. I’m retired military and a current FERS employee. My medical coverage is Tricare, which I’m very happy with. In six years, I would be eligible for a federal retirement. Those six years give me time to enroll in Federal Employees Health Benefits if I would like to carry that coverage into retirement. My health is good. What factors would I consider in deciding to stay with Tricare, or add FEHB coverage if I retire at age 56? Does Medicare coverage factor in?
Q. I am a Postal Service retiree with Federal Employees Health Benefits and will be 65 in February. My wife has good insurance through her employer but will lose that coverage when she retires in about two years. I plan on keeping FEHB to supplement Medicare. Since I will be on Medicare at the time my wife retires, is there any current issue adding her to my FEHB plan?
Q. My wife is able to receive health benefits starting Dec. 1. I am a Postal Service employee retired on disability FERS. Can you tell me the procedure to remove her from my APWU health insurance effective Dec. 1? I realize when she retires from her job and loses her insurance, I can add her back on mine. But if I should die before she retires, is she able to get a FEHB health plan? She will have survivor benefits.
Q. My wife and I are both FERS employees, and I’ve always carried the family plan of Federal Employees Health Benefits. I am eligible to retire and will retire in May. My wife has two more years before she can retire. We also have two children under 26, and we will both switch to single once the youngest turns 26 in three years.
Should my wife pick up the FEHB insurance during this open season, or do I have to carry it into retirement and then make the switch?
Q. What website can I access to change my Federal Employees Health Benefits. I am a federal retiree.