Medicare enrollment


Q: Do I have to enroll in Medicare when I turn 65? What happens to my Federal Employees Health Benefit if I don’t enroll in Medicare? It seems to me that the insurance company is getting a lot less responsibility for the same premium I pay once Medicare kicks in. It seems to me the FEHB premium should decrease because the benefits decrease, and Medicare ought to get paid the difference?

A: You’d be foolish not to enroll in Medicare Part A because you’ve already paid for that coverage through payroll deductions. However, if you don’t want that coverage, you’d better check the brochure for your FEHB plan to learn the consequences of not doing so. Enrollment in Medicare Part B is another story. Whether it’s worth the expense for you to pay the premiums depends on your health needs and whether the combination of benefits in your plan and Part B provide a good cost to benefit result, either now or in the future. Once again you need to check your plan brochure to see how it coordinates benefits with Medicare. Note: While it might seem to you that being covered by Medicare ought to reduce your FEHB premiums, it isn’t necessarily so. The cost of health benefits coverage for retired seniors tends to be greater than for those of younger employees.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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