While federal employees are accustomed to how and when they generally may change their Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage, some different considerations apply for retirees.
As with active employees, retirees may change their enrollment during the annual open season running from mid-November through mid-December. But there are other opportunities for changing coverage as well because of certain life events. The most common of these are:
• downgrading to self-only coverage from family or self plus one coverage, or from family to self plus one, because of the death/divorce of your spouse or your last child aging out of your policy (on turning 26);
• changing plans because you have moved out of the service area of your health maintenance organization;
• upgrading to self plus one or to family coverage because you marry, or have or adopt a child.
For retirees, a situation that does not apply to active employees is turning age 65 and having the opportunity to change to a lower cost option because you now are eligible for Medicare (that small share who continue working after turning that age remain under FEHB and have that option when they retire).
Also remember that as a retiree, you cannot newly enroll in FEHB unless you were to be rehired as an annuitant and then would gain eligibility for the program as an active employee.
Another important difference is that while active employees typically deal with their personnel offices—or an automated system run by the personnel office—to make enrollment changes, the Office of Personnel Management is the point of contact for retirees.
Contact OPM within the period beginning 31 days before up to 60 days after the date of the pertinent event by calling (888) 767-6738 or (202) 606-0500 in the Washington, D.C. area.