Tricare and FEHB


Q. I am a federal employee who is covered by Tricare. Is it true that I can enroll in the FEHB program during the next Open Season and then put it on “hold” when I retire, I can activate it again if I need it?

A. Yes, it’s true. If you are enrolled in the FEHB program when you retire, you can suspend that coverage, then reactive it if you ever lose coverage under Tricare.


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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


    • Yes, the 5 year rule still applies. For example, you could be covered by Tricare for 4 years and 11 months, enroll in the FEHB program for 1 month, carry that FEHB coverage into retirement, then suspend it in favor of Tricare.

  1. On March 17, 2021, I submitted paperwork to OPM to suspend my FEHB effective April 1st. As of my annuity for July 1st, OPM is still deducting the FEHB from my annuity. I have notified all medical providers that effective April 1st, I do not have Blue Cross; that Medicare is my primary and Tricare for Life is my secondary payer. In addition to OPM taking FEHB from my annuity payment for the months of April, May, June and July, I am having difficulty with my health claims. For example, a prescription was sent to Walmart. Walmart submitted it to Tricare and Tricare denied benefits saying that I have prescription insurance through Blue Cross. I have called Tricare several times and they claim that they enter the Other Health Insurance (OHI ) into their system, but the Blue Cross coverage “repopulates”. Blue Cross is still showing on their web site that I have current coverage. Apparently OPM is behind on processing FEHB suspension paperwork. Would filing a congressional speed things up?

    • Like every other federal agency, OPM is running behind. They’ll eventually catch up. When they do, your coverage will be cancelled retroactively and you’ll receive a refund of the premiums withheld from your annuity. I hate to put another burden on OPM’s overworked staff, but if your problem isn’t resolved soon you may need to write your member of Congress and ask him or her to intercede for you.

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