Guidance on FEHB and Insurance Exchanges

Guidance Issued on FEHB and Insurance Exchanges
OPM has issued guidance reiterating that the start of the Affordable Care Act insurance exchange program—also known as Obamacare—in January will have little direct impact on the FEHB program. Those eligible for FEHB can stay in it, with the exception of members of Congress and their personal staffs, who under a special provision will have to get their insurance coverage through the exchanges where they live. FEHB-eligible persons could voluntarily switch to the exchanges but there would be several strong reasons not to, OPM said: they would lose the employer contribution toward premiums; they would have to pay premiums with after-tax money; they would not be eligible for FEHB in retirement unless they were covered by it for the five years leading up to retirement; and if they died while an active employee, their survivors would not be eligible for FEHB coverage even if they would be eligible for survivor annuities. In addition, OPM said that all FEHB plans qualify as providing the level of coverage needed to avoid the tax penalties that will begin in January for those who do not have health insurance meeting certain standards.

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