Deferred Health Option (DHO)
Information about the Deferred Health Option for Retirees
Deferred Health Option for Retirees
The Deferred Health Option (DHO) creates a safety net for retirees who do not elect to continue enrollment in an FCPS health and/or dental plan when they retire but wish to maintain their eligibility for future enrollment in the plan(s).
If you are eligible to retain health care benefits into retirement and you were hired prior to July 1, 2005, you have a one-time election opportunity to participate in the DHO when you retire.
By paying a monthly premium, DHO participants may elect FCPS retiree medical and/or dental coverage if he/she loses similar coverage for the following qualifying events:
- death of spouse
- divorce (or legal separation in states where permitted)
- termination of employment (or termination of spouse's employment) that results in a change in eligibility
- significant increase in cost of coverage
- loss of eligibility under spouse's health and/or dental plan (such as becoming eligible for Medicare)
An eligible individual may only enroll in the type of plan coverage they lost as a result of the qualifying event. For example, if an enrolled DHO member loses dental coverage as a result of the qualifying event, the member may only elect FCPS retiree dental coverage.
DHO is not available to you if you were hired on or after July 1, 2005.
How to Enroll
To participate in the DHO program, you must elect this option at time of retirement and have met the criteria for continued coverage as a retiree. If you do not, you will not be provided with another opportunity to enroll. This option is available only to employees who were hired before July 1, 2005.
Your retirement counselor will provide you with the form needed in order to enroll in the DHO plan and authorize premium deductions from your retirement annuity.
Future Communications—Annual Notification
Prior to the start of each calendar year, DHO participants will receive notification of the monthly premium amount due for the upcoming calendar year. The letter shall be mailed to the individual’s last known address, so it is critical to maintain a current address with FCPS.
Amount of Payment
The cost of DHO participation is adjusted each year by the cost of living adjustment provided to ERFC retirees. DHO participants must elect to pay premiums via deduction from their ERFC or FCERS annuity payments unless such annuity is insufficient from which to take a deduction. In this case, the participant will be provided instructions on how to remit payment. Dis-enrollment will occur if the participant fails to make payments timely. Once DHO coverage is cancelled, it may not be reinstated.
Election to Join Retiree Medical and/or Dental Plan Upon Death of Spouse or Divorce
If a DHO participant experiences a qualifying event (as described above) , he/she may elect to be covered by an FCPS medical or dental plan. In order to elect coverage, the DHO participant must:
- Request enrollment in an FCPS plan with 30 days of the event or loss of coverage; and,
- Provide appropriate documentation that shows the date the coverage was lost.
Enrollment paperwork and required premium payments must be received or postmarked within 30 days of the loss of coverage. Upon timely receipt of the above, the DHO participant will be enrolled in an FCPS retiree medical and/ or dental plan the first day of the month following the loss of coverage.
Once enrolled, the individual will become subject to the same rules with respect to payment, etc., as all other FCPS retiree health and/or dental plan participants.