Health insurance


Q. I am a FERS retiree and I just went back to work as a contractor. They are telling me that I have to purchase their insurance because BCBS is not an employer health care program. I told them I’m retired and have BCBS for life and pay premiums. If I have to pay for their company insurance, I will be paying over $600 a month in premiums. Is there anything I can do about this?

A. Non-federal employers can establish their own rules for health benefits coverage. Perhaps yours can be persuaded that their health benefits coverage isn’t needed by showing them the benefits you are already entitled to. You can find those for the Standard Plan at If that doesn’t sway them, you’re stuck.


About Author

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


  1. This is part of a larger conversation about declining all company benefits. In my case, by declining all benefits with the exception of 401k matching, I was able to negotiate an increase in my salary and avoid the conversation you are having with your employer regarding health benefits.

    Unless it is a small company where your involvement is required for stability purposes, there is no benefit to you to taking their insurance and is equivalent to a mandatory pay decrease. If they don’t budge, I’d find a new employer or ask for a pay raise to include your contribution to the health care with the understanding you will never use it.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments. However, they don’t apply to our population, which is made up of federal employees, retirees and survivors.

    • Good points. In most cases a private sector employer hiring a retired Federal worker with lifetime FEHB benefits would save the employer thousands or even tens of thousands a year in health benefit premiums they don’t have to pay out. In most cases it wouldn’t make sense to force someone with lifetime FEHB to enroll in the company’s health plan and cost the employer thousands more.

      It’d be a good idea for any retired Federal Employee with FEHB who enters the private sector workforce to mention to your prospective new employer that you already have lifetime FEHB coverage and do not need to enroll in their health plan. Most employers would like that but if your new employer insists you enroll in their plan either demand they give you a raise to cover the premium costs for a plan you’ll never use or look elsewhere for work!

  2. I am currently working for the federal government and plan on retiring May 31, 2019. I am 68 years old and currently on the FEHB BC/BS. I also retired from the military but I’ve never used Tricare. My plan is to use Tricare For Life and pay Medicare Part B and suspend BC/BS. Can I do that in May or do I have to pay for the full year of 2019 for BC/BS?

  3. Dear Sir:
    My son is adult autism spectrum disorder. HR @ the VAMC wrote the following on 3/26,2010.
    :…has provided evidence that her dependent….., dob */**/1989 receives benefits from Social Security as a
    permanently disabled child. Ms. M’s dependent son should remain as a family member covered by her Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan after his 22nd birthday.” Problem: my son remains on my health insurance. However, now that he is more easily controlled I have taken him to the orthodontic Dr. and my rider on my BC&BS say: Maximum ortho age. Isn’t he eligible to have braces applied d/t him being permanently disabled? Does age matter when you are dealing with an adult child who , can never function as an adult? Thank you, for any assistance in answering my question.

    • FEHB carriers are required to provide the benefits they negotiated with OPM, nothing more nothing less. If you aren’t satisfied with their decision, you can appeal it to OPM.

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