Insurance during retirement

When you retire, you can choose to continue the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) medical, dental, and life insurance you had as an employee.

To avoid missing the deadlines, we recommend you start the insurance enrollment process early, up to six months before your existing coverage ends. Planning early will help ensure a smoother transition into retirement.


For health insurance, you have 60 days after your existing coverage ends to submit your enrollment form. Your active employee benefits will end at midnight on the last day of the month in which you separate employment.

For life insurance, you have 31 days after your existing coverage ends to apply to convert your coverage; or 60 days to apply to port your coverage.


As long as you meet the enrollment deadline, you’re eligible to continue your health insurance after you retire from UW.

However, if your retirement plan is PERS 2, PERS 1, or LEOFF 2, before you’re eligible to continue your insurance, you must first elect to begin receiving your retirement income. In other words, you can’t postpone receiving your retirement income while also continuing your insurance coverage.

Plan options and cost

You can choose to continue both your medical and dental coverage or just your medical coverage. If you enroll in dental coverage, you must keep that coverage for at least two years.

If you’re enrolled in Medicare, you have different medical plan options than those who are not enrolled in Medicare. Likewise, your monthly costs are different. To compare plans and costs, see either the PEBB plan page for retirees who have Medicare or the page for retirees without Medicare.

Monthly premium surcharges

You must pay an extra fee in addition to your premium if either of these apply to you:

  • You use tobacco (or a dependent on your coverage uses it)
  • You add to your plan a spouse or partner who has declined other health coverage

These surcharges don’t apply to you if you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A or Part B. To learn more, and download the premium surcharge help sheet, see the premium surcharges page.

Defer health coverage until a later date

You may defer PEBB health coverage, but you must still submit your enrollment form within the 60-day deadline.

While deferring coverage, you need to be continuously enrolled in other health care coverage, such as that provided by a spouse’s employer.

Life insurance

When you retire, you have several options to continue your life insurance:

  • PEBB term life insurance. PEBB offers a small term life insurance policy that you can elect. Information about this option is included in the PEBB Retiree Enrollment Guide.
  • Port coverage. You may be able to “port” some or all of your basic and supplemental life insurance that you have at the UW. The completion of a short health questionnaire is required for this option. You have 60 days from the date your active employee coverage ends to submit your application to the insurance carrier. Contact the Benefits Office for more information.
  • Conversion of coverage. You may elect to convert your basic and/or supplemental life insurance coverage to an individual life insurance policy. You have 31 days from the date your active employee coverage ends to submit your application to the insurance carrier. Contact the Benefits Office for more information..

Make changes during open enrollment

Each year during open enrollment, from November 1 – 30, you have the opportunity to change your medical or dental plan. You can also add or remove a child, spouse, or partner from your coverage. Plan premiums can change yearly, so this is a good time to evaluate your coverage.

During open enrollment, you can make changes for any reason. If you need to make a change during other times of the year, you need to provide proof of the qualified life event, such as marriage or birth, that corresponds with the plan change.

As a retiree, the Washington state Health Care Authority (HCA) will send you information about open enrollment that includes instructions for making changes to your coverage.

To make changes to your insurance coverage, contact the PEBB Program.