Frequently Asked Questions About Coverage for Annuitants
Q. What do Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) retirees have to do to change health insurance coverage?
A. During the annual open season, OPM sends open season material to all those enrolled in the FEHBP plus those who have suspended their enrollments to enroll in a Medicare-sponsored plan approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), formerly the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) and to enroll in TRICARE.
- OPM provides Open Season Express, an operator supported toll-free telephone service for retirees to call to request brochures, health benefits satisfaction surveys, and make enrollment changes using telephone technology. The phone number is 1 (800) 332-9798.
- OPM also provides an interactive Open Season Web site at http://www.opm.gov/retire/fehb.
- There are other events that allow retirees or their survivors to make enrollment changes -- such as a move out of the service area of an HMO, enrollment in Medicare, or a change in marital status. These events are given in the FEHB Handbook http://www.opm.gov/insure/handbook/fehb00.asp. During the year, annuitants should call OPM on the toll-free number 1-888-767-6738, TDD for the hearing impaired 1-800-878-5707, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Annuitants in the Washington DC local calling area should dial (202) 606-0500, or (202) 606-0551 for the hearing impaired.
Q. I am an annuitant. I changed my health insurance in open season and have not received an identification card even though it is late January. What can I do?
A. First, call your plan. If they tell you they haven't gotten the paperwork yet from your retirement system, you may contact your retirement system. If you are a Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuitant or a Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuitant, contact OPM at 1-888-767-6738. Before contacting your retirement system, have your annuity information ready: your name, civil service annuity number (beginning with CSA or CSF), phone number and address, and information about your plan, such as the carrier enrollment code.
Q. When will my open season change to the new coverage be effective?
A. Annuitant open season changes are effective January 1.
Q. I am retired but my spouse is not. I want to drop out of the FEHB Program for a year or two because my spouse has good free coverage from her employer for the both of us. Will there be any penalty?
A. Be careful. Such a cancellation would be permanent. Annuitants cannot re-enroll in the program except under very limited circumstances, such as to enroll in a Medicare-sponsored health plan, as described below, or TRICARE. Another exception is if your spouse is also a Federal employee and you cancel to be covered by your spouse's FEHB plan. Further, neither you nor your family members would be eligible for continued coverage nor would you be able to convert your coverage to a private non-group policy. Do not drop out of the program unless you are sure of being able to re-enroll.
Q. Where can Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees
Retirement System (FERS) annuitants get answers to other questions
about retirement benefits?
- OPM's Office of Retirement Programs Website at http://www.opm.gov/retire. The site provides various categories of information including the questions most frequently asked by annuitants and survivor annuitants.
- During the year, you may request information such as verification of annuity or the value of life insurance as well as make changes to your own retirement account, such as federal and state income tax withholding changes, by calling OPM on the toll-free number 1-888-767-6738, TDD for the hearing impaired 1-800-878-5707, or send e-mail to email@example.com. The automated telephone system is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.