Health insurance for life, but only if you …

health-insuranceHow would you like to wind up working three, four or five years longer than you had planned? Either that or leaving the comfort of the subsidized, cradle-to-grave federal employee health program, FEHBP, for coverage under the Affordable Care Act?

One of the major perks of being a federal or postal worker, or a retiree, is the government’s group health insurance program. The FEHBP. It is available to workers and retirees and their survivors regardless of age, health or preexisting conditions.

During the debate over the ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare, the FEHBP was the gold standard-type of health insurance that all Americans deserved.

The FEHBP is for life and then some, IF, you are a federal worker, retiree or survivor of a fed. But there is a catch. The five-year rule. It says the employee must be enrolled in one of the FEHBP plans (any one will do) for the five years prior to retirement in order to carry it into retirement. Many feds who piggyback on their private sector spouse’s health plan enroll in a low-premium FEHBP plan to comply with the so-called five-year rule. That way, when they (or the spouse) retire, they will be eligible for the lifetime coverage and options offered by FEHBP plans.

Workers and retirees have more than a dozen choices of plans, and they can switch during the annual open season (this year Nov. 10 to Dec. 8). Or anytime their marital or family status changes. Such as having a baby. Or losing a spouse to death or divorce. Or if they are in an HMO and move to another location.

The government pays the lions share of the FEHBP premium (generally around 72 percent) regardless of how much premiums go up each year. Workers and retirees have a variety of health plan choices, and options within many plans.

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