The following is a question submitted by a Federal Times reader to columnist Kevin Moss, a senior editor at Consumers’ Checkbook and expert on federal employee health insurance plans for civil servants, retirees and their families.

The question and response have been edited for clarity and confidentiality.

A Fed Times reader asks:

“During open season, can I elect to change to a non-FEHBP plan (for example, original Medicare with a supplement) and return into FEHBP during a following open season if needed?

Also, if I do so, may I still purchase dental & vision plans through FEDVIP?”

Kevin’s response:

During Open Season you can suspend your FEHB plan and enroll in a commercial MA plan. You would not have to pay an FEHB premium, only the Medicare Part B premium and any premium charged by the commercial MA plan. You would be able to re-enroll into an FEHB plan during any future Open Season, unless you involuntarily lose coverage or move out of the commercial MA plan’s service area, which would be a qualifying life event allowing you to re-enroll into an FEHB plan outside of Open Season.

Before considering this option, I encourage you to review MA plans offered by FEHB carriers. Many of them have generous Part B premium reimbursement and $0 for most health care expenses for approved care from providers that accept Medicare and the plan, besides prescription drugs.

You may find that MA plans offered by FEHB carriers offer more generous benefits than what can be found in the commercial MA marketplace.

If you’re eligible for FEHB, you’ll remain eligible for FEDVIP dental or vision plans even if your FEHB coverage is suspended.

Have a question about your FEHB plan or the federal insurance marketplace? Send your query to benefitsexpert@federaltimes.com

Kevin Moss works for Consumers' Checkbook, a nonprofit dedicated to helping consumers make informed decisions. He leads the production of Checkbook's Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees, a decision support tool that helps federal employees and annuitants find the FEHB plan that's the best fit.

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