Fedweek

If you do not receive pay for two consecutive pay periods, BENEFEDS will begin to bill you directly for premium payments. You must pay those bills on a timely basis in order to continue your coverage - says OPM.

Federal employees now facing their second payless payday due to the partial government shutdown increasingly are expressing concerns about the status of their insurance benefits.

The primary concern involves FEHB, under which those in non-pay status remain covered with the enrollee portion accumulating until they return to paid status when the amount due will be deducted from their back pay. That will apply both to those who have continued working without pay and to those furloughed; both categories are now guaranteed that they will receive back pay when the shutdown ends.

Employees in non-pay status typically completed their second full pay period in that status on Saturday (January 19); the pay distribution for that pay period is to be made later this week or early next week in most cases. That will be the second payless distribution for them since the shutdown began; they did receive pay around the turn of the year for the pay period ending December 22, which was the first day of the shutdown.

Under FEHB, “Generally, your enrollment may continue for up to 365 days of leave without pay unless you want it to terminate or do not respond to your employing office’s notice about continuing coverage during a period in leave without pay status,” according to the OPM site.

“The repayment of the amount owed will be treated on a pre-tax basis, if it’s deducted from pay and you participate in premium conversion at the time the deduction is made,” it adds.

Some employees apparently confused terms of the FEHB policy with that of other insurance programs, through which enrollees also typically pay premiums through payroll withholding.

Under the FEDVIP vision-dental program, “if the lapse period is less than two consecutive pay periods, your premiums will accumulate and be withheld later when the lapse ends. If you do not receive pay for two consecutive pay periods, BENEFEDS will begin to bill you directly for premium payments. You must pay those bills on a timely basis in order to continue your coverage,” according to OPM.

Under FLTCIP, if the lapse period “is less than three consecutive pay periods, your accumulated premiums will be withheld when the lapse ends and employees can be paid. Otherwise, Long Term Care Partners will begin to bill you directly for premium payments. You must pay those bills on a timely basis in order to continue your coverage.”

Under FEGLI, coverage continues for 12 months in nonpay status with no premium payments required except for those receiving injury compensation benefits.