Carrying health insurance into retirement


Q. I do not carry Federal Employees Health Benefits because I came to federal employment after retirement from the military and I have Tricare for Life. I have also turned 65 and have Medicare Part B. When I recently went to a retirement planning seminar, I was informed that I could sign up for FEHB during the open season this fall and then carry it into retirement in 2014. Although I would not have the five-year continuous FEHB coverage prior to retirement, I was told that having Tricare will satisfy the five-year requirement.

Further, I was told I could sign up this fall (for let’s say Blue Cross/Blue Shield), carry the insurance into retirement (planning late January/February 2014) and then either continue to carry the Blue Cross or suspend the coverage. By suspending the coverage, I could always go back and pick it up again.

A. Right on all counts. By enrolling in the FEHB program before retiring, you’ll be able to carry that coverage into retirement, as long as the combination of Tricare and FEHB added up to five consecutive years. After retirement, you could continue your FEHB coverage or suspend it in favor of Tricare. If you lost Tricare coverage, you could immediately reactivate your FEHB coverage. If you decided to drop your Tricare coverage, you could reactivate that FEHB coverage during the next open season.


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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


  1. Aubrey Howard on

    If he signed up for FEHB Self-only prior to retiring and then suspended it after retiring in favor of Tricare for Life, could he later sign up for Self – plus – One during any open season even if his spouse was not on Tricare for Life?

    • While he could re-enroll in Self Only under Permissible Change 2C, he could only add you to his coverage under Change 2G if you later lost your own coverage under another group insurance plan.

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