What happens to federal workers' insurance during a shutdown?

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are unable to work as a result of the 35-day partial government shutdown, and since it began on Dec. 22, many have reported struggling financially.

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But while the workers aren't getting their paychecks -- despite some still being required to work -- what happens to their insurance?

According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), federal workers affected by the shutdown will receive additional time before they’re billed for their vision and dental coverage.

Workers will have until they miss their third paycheck -- Feb. 8 -- before they need to directly pay their premiums for coverage, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the news.

The decision came after OPM initially said workers would have to pay their premiums beginning this week, or lose their coverage.

Federal workers are not, however, at risk of losing their health insurance, despite the funding lapse and despite hundreds of thousands being furloughed. The health insurance benefits will stay in effect through the duration of the shutdown even if they are not receiving a paycheck. Once the agencies are funded again, the accumulated premiums will be deducted.

Because dental and vision coverage are not included under that, workers will be billed directly for it, according to the Post.


Federal workers missed their second paycheck on Friday as the partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, dragged into its 35th day.

Although employees are guaranteed back pay once the shutdown ends thanks to a bill signed by President Trump, it takes at least two to three days for the government to process payroll, according to an official for the American Federation of Government Employees union, so it’s unclear when exactly workers would receive that money.