Expert's View

The Federal Employees Health Benefits program is one of the best benefits offered by the government. And it’s open to almost all federal and postal service employees.

Three key features include the flexibility of the annual open season, the opportunity to change enrollment due to certain life events and the opportunity to carry coverage into retirement.


When you are first hired, you’ll be offered the opportunity to enroll in the FEHB program. If you do, the government will contribute an average of 70+ percent of the premium costs for that coverage. If you turn that coverage down, it won’t affect you ability to enroll during the annual FEHB open season.

If you are already enrolled and your family status changes, such as through marriage, birth of a child, the death of a spouse or divorce, you can change from self and family or self plus one to self only or from self only to self plus one of self and family. You can also change from one health benefits plan or option to another. If you do that, you’ll have to make the change from 31 days before the event to 60 days it.

As an added benefit, you can carry your FEHB coverage into retirement if you have been enrolled in the program for the five consecutive years before you retire. And there are exceptions to the five-year rule. For example, if you were enrolled in the program before the beginning date of your agency’s latest statutory early retirement or buyout authority and then retire.

If you have any questions about enrollment or changes in enrollment in the FEHB program, check with your personnel office. If you are already enrolled and want to find the coverage of specific benefits, you can review the material provided by your health benefits insurer or give them a call.