FEHB and Tricare


Q. My wife and I are retired federal workers and currently enrolled in FEHB. I will be eligible for Tricare in January 2020. Do I to wait for next open season to be able to cancel/suspend FEHB coverage or can I cancel/suspend when I become Tricare Eligible?

A. According to OPM, “If the documentation showing your eligibility for TRICARE is received within the period beginning 31 days before and ending 31 days after the date you designate as the day you want to use TRICARE or CHAMPVA instead of FEHB coverage, the suspension becomes effective at the end of the day before the day you designated.”


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. Joseph Chadwell on

    I’m assuming your a retired reservist. Just my thoughts as being retired military myself. 1) Understand how Tricare works I.E. will you be Tricare Select or Tricare Prime. 2) Know the cost.
    3) Look at a cheaper FEHB plan that can be used with Tricare until age 65 when you are eligible for Medicare. 4) Talk to other military retirees that you might know and see what they’re doing. Good luck.

  2. I also will be retiring as an 1895 in 2024 and am retired military reserves and OPM says I can’t use tricare but tricare says I can. so who is right?

    I also want to know if I can’t use tricare because i am an active federal employee how long after retiring from civil service can I use tricare and how does that work with medicare?

    • OPM has no say in the matter. Only Tricare can tell you whether you can use those services while a civil service employee.

    • I work with many retired military, both Active Duty retired and Reserve retired, at DOD in Civil Service. Most of them use Tricare. Most don’t sign up for an FEHB plan, but can if they want. A couple also have Medicare. So, whoever you talked to at OPM (more likely, it was local HR) doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Also, you are required to sign up for Medicare Part B if you have Tricare. Until you retire from Civil Service, either Tricare or FEHB are primary and Medicare is secondary; once you retire from Civil Service, then Medicare is primary and either Tricare or FEHB are secondary.

  3. Kenneth Sullivan on

    I believe someone had to have asked this question by now, Can I use FEHB for any “donut hole” that TRICARE doesn’t cover?

    • As long as you are enrolled in both Tricare and an FEHB plan, what one plan doesn’t cover, the other may. You’ll need to compare both plans to see where they differ and check for any gaps.

  4. Hello Reg – I have been a federal employee for the last 29+ years and have been enrolled in an FEHB plan. I retired from the AF Reserves a few years ago and have been enrolled in TRICARE Select since I turned 60. I plan to retire as a federal employee when I turn 63, which will be July 2021, next year. Which health plan should I keep/drop/suspend for my wife and me? I’ve been reading/researching on the Internet, but no answers have been straight forward.

    • You should enroll in a low-cost FEHB plan during the up-coming Open Season. Then when you retire you can suspend that coverage in favor of Tricare. That way you’d be able to reactivate your FEHB coverage if Tricare no longer meets your needs.

  5. I am retiring from federal service in Feb 2021. I am currently using tricare for life and medicare and am not signed up for FEHB. At a retirement briefing they mentioned it would be good to sign up for FEHB prior to retirement and then suspend FEHB once I retired from federal service. What is the advantage of this. Once I enroll in FEHB how will my insurance be handled (what will be prime and what will be secondary, Medicare, Tricare for Life and FEHB). If I sign up for FEHB to start at the beginning of the year when and how do I submit the paperwork to suspend it.


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