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What You Need to Know about Health and Life Insurance

This week, I want to focus on some of the complexities surrounding the continuation of health and life insurance benefits in retirement and answer some readers questions, but first I want to clarify a point from last weeks Retirement Planning column.

There was some confusion about the number of pay dates in 2015.Some payroll offices will have 27 pay dates in 2015 and others will have 26.My point was thatifthere are 27 pay dates inanygiven year, FERS employees may need to adjust their contributions so that they will not contribute the maximum annual elective deferral limit ($18,000 for 2015 and 2016) before the last pay date so they dont miss out on agency matching contributions.Employees should check with their payroll system or their human resources office to find out if this is an issue for them in 2015. For those employees paid through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, there will be 27 pay dates in 2015. The last pay date isDec. 31, for the pay period that ends Dec.26 (the pay date would normally fall on Jan. 1, 2016, but employees will be paid one day early).

Retirement Health Benefits

If you want to maintain health coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program into retirement, you need to be sure you meet the requirementsand for some, that can be complicated.

Here are the eligibility requirements from OPM, stipulating that you need 5 years of service continuous coverage under FEHB immediately prior to receiving your annuity. For purposes of continuing FEHB coverage into retirement, service means time in a position in which you wereeligible to be enrolled. You are not required to have been anenrolleecontinuously, but you must have been continuouslycoveredby an FEHB enrollment. This includes:

  • Time you are covered as a family member under another persons FEHB enrollment;
  • Time you are covered under the Uniformed Services Health Benefits Program (also known as TRICARE or CHAMPUS), as long as you were covered under an FEHB enrollment at the time of your retirement. (You must enroll in FEHB within 60 days after you lose coverage under the Uniformed Services Health Benefits Program for that time to be considered as part of continuous FEHB coverage.)

Coverage under Medicare does not count in determining continuous coverage.

Service as a non-appropriated Fund employee does not count in determining continuous coverage since it is not Federal service and not subject to FEHB coverage.

What about a spouse covered by her husbands FEHB for more than five years before retirement...can she now elect self-only FEHB coverage in retirement?

Yes, see the first bullet in the above reference that allows coverage under a family members enrollment. Keep in mind that OPM will need to see proof that you were covered under your spouses FEHB enrollment. You can show this by including a copy of the spouses FEHB enrollment showing self and family or self plus one enrollment with your retirement application. Your agency retirement benefits specialist should include this proof when preparing your retirement package for submission to OPM.

My spouse works for the state and I have always had health insurance through her plan. At age 55 I enrolled in a Self Only FEHB plan because of the 5-year rule. This made my plan primary and my wifes plan secondary for me. The state plan is better and they pay a higher percentage for the employee than the federal plan. Can I elect to drop my federal plan at the time of retirement and still have the option of picking it back up if for some reason I lost coverage through my spouses plan? This would save the government their contribution.

If you cancel your FEHB coverage, you will not be permitted to re-enroll in retirement. You also will need to meet the five-year test in order to maintain this coverage in retirement. Some readers suggested that you suspend your FEHB coverage, however, you will not be permitted to suspend FEHB unless you are retired and have coverage under Tricare (military health care), Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C), or health coverage under the Peace Corps. Here is more information about suspending FEHB.

Retirees and former spouses can apply to suspend their coverage at any time. Annuitants can call OPMs Retirement Information Office at 1-888-767-6738 to obtain a suspension form. Callers within the local Washington metro area must call 202-606-0500. Former spouses can get the form from the employing office or retirement system maintaining their enrollment. Eligible individuals must submit a completed suspension form and provide all necessary documentation to show eligibility for TRICARE or CHAMPVA during the period beginning 31 days before and ending 31 days after the date they designate as using TRICARE or CHAMPVA instead of FEHB coverage.

Here is the form that describes the election to suspend (or cancel) FEHB enrollment as a retiree.

Continuing Your Life Insurance Benefits

Life insurance is another issue to watch. The premiums jump quickly in 5-year increments and it can become quite expensiveor some plans are potentially free. Do not pass up the free life insurance even if you dont think you need it.

Its true that premiums for Federal Employees Group Live Insurance Option B are going to increase every 5 years until reaching age 80. In addition, there will be a change in premiums for FEGLI that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. There will also be a rare FEGLI open election season in September 2016. This is something I will be writing about in the near future. In the meantime, here is a Benefits Administration Letter published earlier this year from OPM and the new premium rates. You can also check out my previous columns about FEGLI, Need Money? Rethink Life Insurance, and Life Insurance Basics.

(Image via Vucicevic Milos/Shutterstock.com)



Our Social Networks

Wednesday: "You're Hired: Vocational Rehabilitation Works," the University of Scranton's 14th annual Conference on disABILITY, 8:30 am, DeNaples Center, 900 Mulberry St., Scranton. Laura Owens, morning keynote speaker, will discuss "What's Working: Public Policies and Initiatives to Increase Employment of Individuals with Disabilities" and author Rebecca Alexander will present the evening keynote address at a town meeting, at 4:30 pm Three national employers will present on innovative strategies to increase diversity within the workforce. For more information visit scranton.edu/

disabilityconference.

Thursday: "The Affordable Care Act and the Empowered Employer: How Organizations Can Retake Control of Their Healthcare Costs While Improving the Quality of Care and Health of Their Employees," Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce along with the Greater Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton Chambers of Commerce, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and Coordinated Health, 4:30 pm, PNC Field, 235 Montage Mountain Road, Moosic. For more information, visit www.scrantonchamber.com.

Business Card Exchange, the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Greater Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton Chambers of Commerce, 5 to 7 pm, PNC Field, 235 Montge Mountain Road, Moosic. The event is open to both chamber members and non-members. Refreshments will be served. For more information, visit www.scrantonchamber.com.

Friday: No-Cost Balanced Scorecard/ Strategic Planning and Execution Seminar, Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center, 8 to 10 am, Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance, 92 Main Ave., Hawley. The seminar covers clarifying goals and conducting strategic analysis, selecting measures, targets, initiatives and establishing accountability and more.

Oct. 30: A night of "deadly" entertainment, Greater Hazelton Chamber of Commerce, Funfest, 8:30 pm, Cinema Drafthouse, 31 West Broad St., West Hazleton. Attendees are encouraged to participate in a zombie costume contest, cash prizes will be awarded to the three best zombies. Food will be available, a classic horror movie will be shown and entertainment will be provided by Funfest's DJ Mikey. Cost, $20; after Oct. 26, cost, $25. Under 21 must be accompanied by an adult.

Nov. 4: Health Insurance Basics webinar, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, 6 to 7 pm The webinar aims to provide members of the community a basic understanding of the Pennsylvania health care industry and will be lead by director of health benefit services for American HealthCare Group, Erin Hart. For more information, visit pasafarming.org/healthbasics.

SUBMIT BUSINESS BRIEFCASE items to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or The Times-Tribune, 149 Penn Ave., Scranton, PA 18503.



At your library

Tuesday, Oct. 27: Teen Time. For teens. Join the library at 2:30 pm for games, crafts, movies and more.

Spooky Story Time. For ages 2 to 5 years old with an adult. Come in costume for not-so-scary stories and songs celebrating Halloween at 6:30 pm

Wednesday, Oct. 28: Baby Story Time. For ages birth to 23 months old with an adult. Connect with your baby through stories, rhymes, bounces and songs, followed by a play time at 10 am Registration required.

Preschool Story Time. For ages 2 to 5 years old with an adult. Interact with your preschooler by enjoying stories, songs and activities at 11 am

Teen Time. For teens. Join the library at 2:30 pm for games, crafts, movies and more.

Thursday, Oct. 29: Teen Time. For teens. Join the library at 2:30 pm for games, crafts, movies and more.

Friday, Oct. 30: Teen Gaming. For ages 11 to 17. Try your skills at Super Smash Bros., Rock Band, and other fun games at 11:30 am

Saturday, Oct. 31: Main Street Halloween Spooktacular. For all ages; children younger than 8 must be accompanied by an adult. Come in costume to this event featuring a costume contest, costume parade, trick-or-treating, story time and more at 10:30 am

Spooky Story Time. For children ages 2 to 5 with an adult. Come in costume for not-so-scary stories and songs celebrating Halloween as part of Main Street Halloween Spooktacular at 10:45 am Sponsored by Reisterstown Improvement Association.

Animal Super Powers. For all ages; children younger than 8 must be accompanied by an adult. EcoAdventures will introduce children to superheroes in the animal kingdom at 2 pm

Owings Mills Branch10302 Grand Central Ave., 410-887-2092

Wednesday, Oct. 21: Pajama Story Time. For ages 2 to 5 years old with an adult. Put on your pajamas and bring your bedtime pal for stories and songs at 7 pm

Thursday, Oct. 22: Preschool Story Time. For ages 2 to 5 years old with an adult. Stories, songs and activities at 10 am and 11 am

Smart Choice Health Insurance Basics. For adults. This one-hour workshop at 6:30 pm will help you better understand the risks of not having health insurance and its importance in your future. Presented by University of Maryland Extension. Registration required.

Friday, Oct. 23: Bilingual Baby Story Time. For newborns to 23-month-olds with an adult. Share stories, rhymes, bounces and songs in Spanish and English, followed by a play time, at 10 am

Bilingual Preschool Story Time. For ages 2 to 5 years old with an adult. Share stories, songs and activities in Spanish and English at 11 am

Saturday, Oct. 24: Animal Super Powers. For all ages; children younger than 8 must be accompanied by an adult. EcoAdventures introduce children to superheroes in the animal kingdom at 2 pm

Sunday, Oct. 25: Preschool Story Time. For ages 2 to 5 years old with an adult. Stories, songs and activities at 2 pm

Monday, Oct. 26: English Conversation Club. For adults. Practice your English in a small group setting at 1 pm Tips for a Healthier Home. For adults. Learn tips to make your home the healthiest it can be at 6:30 pm Offerd by the University of Maryland Extension. Registration required.

Tuesday, Oct. 27: Baby Story Time. For babies birth to 23 months old with an adult. Connect with your baby through stories, rhymes, bounces and songs, followed by a play time, at 10 am Registration required.

Thursday, Oct. 29: Preschool Story Time. For ages 2 to 5 years old with an adult. Stories, songs and activities at 10 am and 11 am

Friday, Oct. 30: Bilingual Baby Story Time. For newborns to 23-month-olds with an adult. Share stories, rhymes, bounces and songs in Spanish and English, followed by a play time, at 10 am

Bilingual Preschool Story Time. For ages 2 to 5 years old with an adult. Share stories, songs and activities in Spanish and English at 11 am

Saturday, Oct. 31: Halloween Crafts. For all ages; children younger than 8 must be accompanied by an adult. Celebrate Halloween with spooky, scary and cute crafts at 10 am

Spooktacular Stories and Halloween Costume Parade. For all ages; children younger than 8 must be accompanied by an adult. Join the library for Halloween-themed stories and songs, and show off your costume at the parade going through the branch at 2 pm



RV Insurance Basics

You just bought a new recreational vehicle for an upcoming vacation. Should you just add it to your current auto policy or purchase an RV policy. If you just want basic collision and liability coverage you can add it to your existing auto policy. If you are interested in an RV policy it will help to know some basics.

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