Temporary Health Coverage For Adult Children of Federal Employees

Changes to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) as a result of the new health care legislation are emerging—sometimes with a few minor slip-ups.

Changes to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) as a result of the new health care legislation are emerging—sometimes with a few minor slip-ups.

A few days ago, we provided information about the adult children of federal employees and the dates for implementing new provisions that would allow adult children to remain on a federal employee’s health insurance until 26 years of age (See Your Adult Children and Federal Employee Health Insurance).

Since then, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has indicated that original guidance about temporary coverage for an adult child who loses coverage when turning 22 contained a minor error. It is a small point but one that could be important if you cut it close.

Under FEHB regulations, there is an automatic 31-day temporary extension of coverage when a child loses coverage upon turning 22. The original guidance had indicated there was only a 30-day temporary extension.

Under Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC), children are required to pay the full FEHB premium plus a two percent administrative charge. They can choose any FEHB plan that suits their needs and are not tied to their parent’s health plan. As you can imagine, using temporary coverage does not please some readers who would prefer to pay a lesser amount by continuing to have their adult child covered by their federal employee health insurance. For now, that may nevertheless be the best option for some readers.

What About Changes for Adult Children and Your Health Insurance?

One other note: Several readers commented that the previous article did not clearly state when they would be able to add their adult children to their FEHB policy under new health care legislation and asked when they would be able to add their children to a federal employee’s health plan.

The earlier article stated: “the current answer is that changes to the health care insurance for adult children will not become effective until January 2011. OPM is working to change the existing law to enable insurance companies to offer extended coverage at an earlier date.”

So, the answer to the question is: January 2011. That may change but, says OPM, the current law governing the federal employee program does not allow the change before that date.

Finally, a number of readers have written in to ask questions about the implementation of changes in the federal health plan for their adult children. The answers will depend on the interpretation and guidance issued by OPM. We do not intend to speculate on what this guidance may be. When it is issued by the agency, we will provide the information to our readers as soon as possible.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47

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