Health insurance after you’ve gone

Ever think about what your spouse will do for health insurance after you’ve gone? He or she has been part of your family plan and they can continue coverage for life, provided you elect a survivor annuity for your spouse.

According to Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees,” if you die and your spouse receives no federal pension “your spouse will lose [Federal Employees Health Benefits Program] health insurance coverage forever. If you did while enrolled as self-only your spouse will also lose coverage.”

Monday is the last day feds and retirees can pick their 2019 health plan. If they don’t switch they will be continued in their current health plan even if their doctors may have left their network, premiums have jumped and benefits have been cut.

It pays to shop a little now to save a lot later.

Checkbook expert Walton Francis said catastrophic coverage is the reason people buy health insurance, or that it should be. The catastrophic, or limit-to-you, coverage is the maximum you will be required to pay out of pocket next year if you or the family have a major medical issue or are involved in a serious accident.

For more on catastrophic coverage, click here:

Read the fine print. The Checkbook warned about “misleading catastrophic cost protection claims” in plan summaries. “Some plans exclude deductibles, doctor co-payments or drug costs in the future they claim for catastrophic limits. This can understate your risk by thousands of dollars.”

For huge retiree cost savings, Checkbook said “Annuitants with Medicare Parts A and B can suspend (not drop) their FEHBP enrollment, join a Medicare Advantage plan and pay only their Medicare premium. They can re-enroll in an FEHBP plan in the future without penalty, and in the meantime, enjoy good catastrophic protection, have low copays and save thousands in premium costs.”

Read up on the five-year rule. If you’re piggybacking on your private sector spouses health plan, you could lose your ability to go into the FEHBP when you retire from your federal job.

Want to avoid health care bankruptcy? The leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. is medical costs, which is why you need to know your health plan’s catastrophic coverage limits.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

When the wreckage of the steamship L.R. Doty, which sank in 1898 on Lake Michigan, was found in 2010, its corn cargo was found to be in perfect condition.

Source: The Maritime Executive

Related Stories

    Health insurance after you’ve gone

    Read more

    Federal employees to see some relief in FEHBP premium increases in 2019

    Read more

    OPM urges FEHBP carriers to find new ways to cut health care costs for 2019

    Read more


Your Turn with Mike Causey


Learn about everything from pay, benefits and retirement, to buyouts, COLAs and pay freezes. Call the show live Wednesdays from 10-11 a.m. at 202-465-3080 with your questions. Dial 605-562-0264 to listen live from any phone. Follow Mike on Twitter and send him an email with your questions and comments. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Podcast One.

Sign up for breaking news alerts


Oct 18, 2021 Close Change YTD*
L Income 23.2464 0.006 3.52%
L 2025 12.0488 0.0048 6.40%
L 2030 42.6765 0.0216 7.92%
L 2035 12.8342 0.007 8.58%
L 2040 48.6333 0.0284 9.26%
L 2045 13.3390 0.0082 9.83%
L 2050 29.2577 0.0191 10.41%
L 2055 14.4366 0.0115 12.65%
L 2060 14.4365 0.0114 12.65%
L 2065 14.4364 0.0115 12.65%
G Fund 16.6847 0.0021 0.99%
F Fund 20.8592 -0.0048 -1.40%
C Fund 67.5316 0.2276 15.90%
S Fund 86.5236 0.3505 11.66%
I Fund 38.9905 -0.1662 8.56%
Closing price updated at approx 6pm ET each business day. More at
* YTD data is updated on the last day of the month.