FEHB in retirement


Q. I am 53 years old, and I’ve worked with the U.S. Postal Service as a clerk for 31 years. I am thinking of retiring in one year. Would I be able to keep my health insurance until I’m eligible for Medicare? If I cannot, can I pay for my same policy through the Postal Service even though I am retired from it? How long would I be able to carry forward my same health plan? My main concern is my health insurance — I heard that you can pay an additional fee to keep your health insurance policy via the Postal Service.

A. If you’ve been enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program for the five consecutive years before you retire, you can carry that coverage into retirement. And you can continue that coverage for as long as you live. While negotiations between the Postal Service and its unions have reduced the cost of premiums for Postal Service employees, that subsidy ends when they retire. At that point, they pay the same premiums as all other employees and retirees.


About Author

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


  1. I have been retired for ten years and now have Medicare . My wife and I are each paying $120 for Part B and I kept my fed blue cross blue shield basic to offset Medicare. I understand that Medicare picks up 80 percent of my wife and my medical costs and blue cross blue shield goes down from 100 percent to only 20 percent. Why didn’t my blue cross blue shield premiums go down? Now i are paying the same blue cross blue shield premium as before I had Medicare plus picking up the cost of part B for both my why and I for an extra $240 a month. And the coverage stays about the same. I know I can switch to another plan but have had blue cross my whole career. I thought Obamar care was going to get those premiums reduced since it was only covering 20 percent??

    • By law all FEHB plans are experience rated. In other words, the premiums of each is based on the usage on their entire population of enrollees. The FEHB program is in compliance with all Obamacare requirements, none of which would require that premiums be adjusted. With only one exception, the premiums are the same for employees, retirees and survivors, young and old, sick or healthy. That exception is for the Postal Service, which through labor agreements picks up a larger portion of its employees’ premiums.

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