Adding wife to health insurance


Q. My fiance is a retired federal government employee under CSRS. We are getting married this month, and he would like to add me as his wife to his insurance. However, when we called and asked about the monthly cost of adding me (I have never worked for the federal government), we were told his premiums would jump from approximately $155 a month to $450 per month because I have never worked for the government. Is it correct that what we pay for insurance can climb by a huge amount because I never worked for the government, or would the federal government also pay some of the cost of insuring me?

If it is true that the cost can jump so high through my future husband’s health insurance, I will still need health insurance. I work part time and do not have health insurance. If I apply for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, will they want me to submit household income on my application? If so, does his income affect how much I am to pay for health insurance?

A. You were either misinformed or you misunderstood what you were told. His health benefits premiums would increase, but that’s because he’d be moving from a self only enrollment to self and family, not because you never worked for the federal government. He can check with his current plan to see what the difference in cost would be.

Note: For you to continue that health benefits coverage if he were to die, he’d have to elect a survivor annuity for you after you marry. To pay for it, there would be two reductions in his annuity. One is the standard one to provide the survivor benefit. The second is a permanent actuarial reduction to pay the survivor benefit deposit. The deposit equals the difference between the new annuity rate and the annuity paid to the retiree for each month since retirement, plus 6 percent interest. The reduction is determined by dividing the amount of the deposit by an actuarial factor for the retiree’s age on the date the annuity is reduced to provide the survivor benefit.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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