I enjoy my federal job but my boss has made my government experience a nightmare. I have some money in savings and a solid idea for my own business but want to ensure that I can maintain my family's health care coverage until I get things stable. When I resign can I keep my government health benefits?
Government has its share of awful bosses; just take a look at an OhMyGov! poll done last year where a majority of our readers felt their supervisors lacked the skills to be a management and/or supervisor.
With a downward spiraling economy, Bureaupat's hasty response would be for you to stick it out since bosses come and go and you can always seek another government job that ends with a promotion. But it sounds like your mind is made up. You'll be relieved to know that you can continue with your government health insurance for up to 20 months, provided you can cover the cost of the entire premium each month.
Most are familiar with the federal COBRA law which requires private sector employers with 20 or more employees to let employees and their dependents keep their group health coverage for 18 months (or up to 29 or 36 months in some cases) after they leave their group health plan under certain conditions.
The government is a little different.
If you separate, your Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) coverage will terminate effective the last day of the pay period in which you separate. You then have a 31-day temporary extension of coverage during which the insurance continues at not cost to you. During that 31-day period, you may apply to convert to a nongroup contract or apply for Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC).
TCC allows you to continue the same level of health benefits coverage enjoyed while employed. The TCC covers the same family members as were covered under you plan while employed. Enrollment under TCC is limited to a maximum of 18 months and you will pay both the employee and government shares of the premium, plus an additional 2 percent administrative fee.
When TCC expires, you will be given another 31-day extension of coverage in the same enrollment category at not cost. During this 31-day period, you may apply to convert to a nongroup contract.
You're probably asking, how much will this set me back?
The government covers a significant portion of the premium for federal employees and retirees, so prepare to spend some serious cash for the same level of coverage. The actual amount depends on your plan but for illustrative purposes let's say your current plan is Aetna Open Access-high. As an employed fed, you pay approximately $6058/year for family coverage. If you separate, the same plan will cost $15,552/year under TCC.
One important warning: You must make every month's payment on time or you will be dropped and cannot re-enroll. So, if you do decide to give up your government job and the benefits that come with it, make sure you keep careful track of your payments.