Securing Your Healthcare in Retirement: Keeping Federal Health Insurance After Leaving Service

Retirement is a significant milestone in one’s life, marking the transition from a career-focused lifestyle to a well-deserved period of relaxation and personal pursuits. However, one crucial aspect that often raises concerns for federal employees is the continuity of their health insurance coverage after retiring. The good news is that the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program offers a comprehensive solution, allowing retirees to maintain their existing healthcare coverage under certain conditions.

Eligibility Requirements for Keeping FEHB in Retirement

To retain your FEHB coverage after retirement, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have been continuously enrolled in the FEHB program, TRICARE, or the Civilian Health and Medical Program for Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS) for the five years immediately preceding your retirement date.
  • Alternatively, you must have been continuously enrolled in one of these healthcare programs for the entirety of your federal employment since your first opportunity to enroll.
  • Your annuity payments must commence within 30 days of your retirement date.

It’s important to note that if you’re retiring under the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) plus 10 provision of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), your health insurance and life insurance coverage will be suspended until your annuity starts, even if it is postponed.

The Office of Personnel Management’s Waiver Authority

In exceptional circumstances, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has the authority to waive the five-year participation requirement for continuing FEHB coverage as a retiree. This waiver is granted when it would be deemed inequitable and against good conscience not to allow an individual to participate in the health insurance program during retirement.

However, the law specifies that the failure to meet the five-year requirement must be due to truly exceptional circumstances. If an individual is retiring voluntarily, a waiver may not be appropriate, as they could have continued working until the requirement was met. When circumstances warrant a waiver, OPM will notify the individual’s employer.

Covering Your Dependents

One of the significant advantages of maintaining your FEHB coverage in retirement is the ability to extend coverage to your eligible dependents. Your family enrollment covers not only yourself but also your current spouse, eligible children under the age of 26, and other eligible dependents.

Ensuring Proper Documentation

To ensure a smooth transition to retirement and continued FEHB coverage, it’s crucial to review your Official Personnel Folder before retiring. This folder should contain a complete history of your health insurance enrollment forms (SF-2809 and/or SF-2810) for the last five years, providing OPM with the necessary records to verify your eligibility.

Paying Premiums After Retirement

If you are eligible to continue your FEHB coverage but your retirement payment will not cover the cost of your premium, you can make direct payments to OPM. However, you should not send any payments until OPM contacts you with instructions on how to pay your premiums directly.

Medicare and FEHB: A Complementary Combination

As federal retirees approach age 65, they have the option of enrolling in Medicare coverage while still maintaining their FEHB plan. This combination can provide comprehensive healthcare coverage, with Medicare serving as a supplement to your existing FEHB benefits.

Retirees have three choices when it comes to integrating Medicare with their FEHB coverage:

  1. Keep their FEHB plan and decline Medicare enrollment.
  2. Enroll in Medicare and keep their FEHB plan, allowing the two programs to coordinate benefits.
  3. Suspend their FEHB coverage and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.

It’s important to note that if you choose to suspend your FEHB coverage, you can reinstate it during any future Open Season period.

Understanding Medicare’s Components

Medicare is divided into four parts, each offering different types of coverage:

  • Part A: Covers hospital-related expenses and is typically free for most individuals.
  • Part B: Similar to FEHB, it covers doctor’s visits, ambulance services, and durable medical equipment. Premiums are required for Part B and are deducted from your Social Security payments.
  • Part C: Known as Medicare Advantage plans, these combine the benefits of Parts A and B into a single plan. Premiums are also required for Part C.
  • Part D: Provides prescription drug coverage, acting as a supplement to your FEHB plan or Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare is administered by the Social Security Administration, and you should contact them at least three months before your 65th birthday to apply for benefits and determine your eligibility.


The Federal Employees Health Benefits program offers a comprehensive and flexible solution for federal retirees, allowing them to maintain their existing healthcare coverage and extend it to their eligible dependents. By understanding the eligibility requirements, properly documenting your enrollment history, and exploring the integration of Medicare with your FEHB plan, you can ensure a seamless transition to retirement while securing quality healthcare for you and your loved ones.

Can I Keep FEHB Health Insurance into Retirement


Can I keep my FEHB after age 65?

Health. With regard to Medicare, the decision is yours. Your FEHB coverage will continue whether or not you enroll in Medicare.

Can you keep your health insurance after leaving the federal government?

Health. If you leave Federal Service, you may be eligible for Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC) for up to 18 months under the FEHB. TCC is a feature of the (FEHB) Program that allows certain people to temporarily continue their FEHB coverage after regular coverage ends.

When can I retire with full benefits from federal government?

Under FERS, an employee who meets one of the following age and service requirements is entitled to an immediate retirement benefit: age 62 with five years of service, 60 with 20, minimum retirement age (MRA) with 30 or MRA with 10 (but with reduced benefits).

Why keep FEHB with Medicare?

Once Medicare becomes the primary payer, you may find that a lower cost FEHB plan is adequate for your needs, especially if you are currently enrolled in a plan’s high option. Also, some plans waive deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments when Medicare is primary.

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