Reg Jones Expert's View

In the private sector it’s called COBRA. In the federal government it’s called Temporary Continuation of Coverage. In both cases it’s a way to remain in an employer-sponsored health insurance program when you leave that employer for a time, although at a higher cost.

Continued health insurance is not so much of a consideration for federal employees who leave their jobs to go straight into retirement. So long as they meet certain conditions, Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage continues uninterrupted, with the government continuing to pay a share of the premiums.

ADVERTISEMENT


But what about those who separate for reasons other than immediate retirement?

First, I need to point out that anyone who is enrolled in the FEHB program when they leave will automatically receive a 31-day extension of coverage at no cost to themselves. If they want that coverage to continue, they can do that under the Temporary Continuation of Coverage provision (so long as the separation was not involuntary due to misconduct).

Anyone electing TCC can stay in the FEHB plan they were enrolled in when they left, change the option within that plan or switch to a different plan and option. They can continue that coverage for up to 18 months after the day on which they leave the government.

With one exception, they will be required to pay the full cost of the premiums, plus 2 percent to cover administrative expenses. The exception applies to DoD employees in downsizing situations: who are either involuntarily separated due or voluntarily separate from a “surplus” position only have to pay the employee share of the premiums.

The TCC provision also applies to children who are covered by a family member and turn age 26, as well as a former spouse if certain conditions are met. That coverage can continue for up to 36 months, again at the full premium cost plus 2 percent.

If you want to apply for TCC, you or your child or former spouse will need to fill out a Standard Form 2809 (Employee Health Benefits Registration Form), which is available in agency personnel offices or online at www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf2809.pdf.

‘Qualifying Life Events’ That Allow FEHB Changes Outside Open Seasons

What Changes with FEHB When you Retire?

Key Provisions of FEHB for Federal Employees

How Not to Lose your FEHB in Retirement

ask.FEDweek.com: Termination of FEHB Coverage

FERS Retirement Guide 2021