Your Turn to Ask

February 2024
a young man smiling and pointing at the viewer next to text which reads your turn to ask

Where can I learn more about health care options in retirement?

As you get closer to retirement, your post-employment health insurance options are an important consideration.

The major distinctions in determining your options for health insurance after service retirement are whether your employer offers health coverage for retirees and if you are eligible for Medicare. VRS does not administer health insurance benefits.

Political Subdivision and School Division Employees

If you are retiring from a school or political subdivision, contact your human resource office for information about retiree health insurance that your employer may offer, including if coverage is offered after Medicare eligibility.

State Employees Not Eligible for Medicare

If you are retiring from state employment, you are eligible to enroll in the State Retiree Health Benefits Program. As a new retiree, you have a variety of options, including but not limited to:

  • Enrolling in the same health plan and membership level you had as an active employee.
  • Making a plan change.
  • Reducing your membership level.
  • Waiving retiree coverage to participate as a family member of either an active state employee or another state retiree group participant (and preserving eligibility for your own retiree coverage in the future). Active state employees and retirees may add dependents during open enrollment or after a qualifying life event.
  • Declining coverage (you will not be able to enroll later).

The Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) administers this plan. Visit DHRM’s Health Benefits for Non-Medicare Retirees page for more information, including premium costs and a fact sheet on coverage options. VRS will deduct the premiums from your monthly benefit payment, if eligible.

If you cancel coverage, you are not eligible to re-enroll in the program unless you return to work and retire again as a state employee.

State Employees Eligible for Medicare

If you enroll in the State Retiree Health Benefits Program and are eligible for Medicare, the information above applies to you as well, though you must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B on your retirement date. If you or any covered family members are eligible for Medicare, be sure to contact the Social Security Administration at least three months before your retirement date to advise of your upcoming change in employment status.

Visit DHRM’s Health Benefits for Medicare Retirees page for more information, including premium costs and a fact sheet on Medicare and the State Retiree Health Benefits Program.

Explore All Options

Some retirees may want to examine the advantages and disadvantages of looking outside of their former employer’s offerings for health insurance. You may decide to join a spouse’s plan or shop around for an individual health insurance plan that meets your needs and budget. For more information about health insurance providers in Virginia, and for information about the Virginia Health Benefits Exchange, visit the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s consumer insurance page.

Estimate Expenses in myVRS

Log in to your myVRS account and use the Retirement Planner to help project your future expenses in retirement, including health care costs. Save your plan in your myVRS account for future reference and to help you stay on track to meet your income goals at retirement.

Health Insurance Credit

If you work for a participating employer and have at least 15 years of service credit when you retire, you may be eligible for the health insurance credit. This is a tax-free benefit that assists with health insurance premiums you pay for single coverage, excluding any part of the premiums covering a spouse or dependents.