Hundreds of thousands of federal workers and retirees -- not just Blue Cross-Blue Shield policyholders -- may be in line for cash rebates within the next few months.

Insurance industry sources say that as many as a dozen of the health plans participating in the federal employe health insurance program are planning to issue some kind of refund this year, or cut premiums next year.

Blue Cross-Blue Shield has announced plans to give refunds -- ranging from $18 to more than $400 -- to its 1.4 million current federal policyholders.

The company's plan to give refunds only to persons enrolled in 1985 has been challenged in court.

A group of federal workers and retirees who had the insurance plan in 1983 and last year has asked for a share of the refunds because of surpluses built up by the plan because policyholders are not using their insurance as much this year, or are paying a bigger share of their medical bills.

Many nonfederal health insurance plans have had similar experiences.

The Office of Personnel Management next week will announce health insurance premiums that will be charged to civil servants and retirees in 1986.

There will be an open enrollment period in November and December.

Also expected next week is an announcement that some of the other large plans in the health program will either offer current subscribers rebates or will lower premiums next year to cut into their surpluses.