How Retired Couples Can Save Money by Choosing Self-Only FEHB Enrollment
For a husband and wife who are both Federal annuitants and who have no dependent children, it is possible to save on premium costs by enrolling separately as self only rather than together as self plus one. The premiums for two self-only enrollments are usually less than the self plus one premium. This option can be particularly valuable in cases where each spouse prefers a different plan, perhaps because no one plan covers both family physicians in its network.
Be cautious, however, because each person will have to meet a separate catastrophic limit rather than the single limit that applies in a self plus one scenario. Most plans do not increase your risk because they include individual limits of about half the amount of the overall self plus one or family limit. Moreover, while you are still technically subject to meeting two catastrophic limits if you both enroll self-only, the fee structure of most HMOs makes it almost impossible to reach those limits. Finally, if two Federal annuitants both have Medicare Parts A and B your risk exposure is low in all plans, and very low in plans that offer a Part B wrap-around. For these reasons you are almost always safe with two self-only enrollments. But do check the plan brochure's catastrophic limits carefully before making this decision.
However, couples in which one is a federal annuitant and the other still federally employed should almost never use two self-only enrollments. It is always less expensive for the employed spouse to enroll in a self plus one or family option and get about a one-third savings from Premium Conversion.