As well as the fulfilling nature of many of the roles, working for the federal government has many advantages. For example, the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program which has been specifically designed to meet the health care needs for not only the individual but their families too. Depending on your role, you would have had plenty of options when first entering employment from High Deductible plans to Consumer-Driven plans.
However, many worry about what will happen to their FEHB coverage after they reach retirement age. Over the years, we’ve seen many people make the same mistakes so we want to answer some basic questions today; this way, you can plan in advance and reduce the risk of losing coverage.
First and foremost, to ease concern we should state that coverage can be carried over into retirement so long as certain requirements are met. What does this mean? Well, it means that, before retirement, those who have five consecutive years in the FEHB program will qualify. For those who have taken a break from service, whether or not you qualify will depend on when you reenrolled. If you reenrolled as soon as you returned to service, this would still be considered ‘consecutive’ service.
Exceptions to the Rule
As with any rule, there are some exceptions to consider and the first is for those who are covered by their spouse’s FEHB enrollment. After this, the five-year rule doesn’t apply to anybody who accepted an early retirement opportunity without having the full five years of coverage. Finally, we should also note that you won’t be able to carry your coverage over if you have fewer than five years of coverage; even if you enrolled at the earliest possible opportunity.
I Don’t Meet Requirements…
What if you’re retiring soon and you don’t qualify for the five-year rule? After your retirement date, you’ll have a coverage extension of 31 days (there’s no charge for this service). Once this period is over, there’s an opportunity to extend for a further 18 months under the TCC (temporary continuation of coverage). While this might seem like an attractive offer, and you will have a chance to change provider, you’ll now take charge of the policy for this period which means you’re responsible for 100% of the premiums as well as the 2% administrative expense charge.
Without planning ahead, it’s easy to retire and lose all FEHB coverage. Considering the cost of health care currently, this can be a devastating blow to one’s finances so plan the coming years and feel free to contact a finance professional wherever necessary.