Medicare Part B


Q. Why does Medicare become one’s primary insurer when they reach 65? I am a retired federal employee with FEHB, which becomes secondary at that age. Is Medicare better?

A. Medicare becomes primary because the law requires it. The law applies to anyone who is retired and enrolled in Medicare. It does not apply to those age 65 or older who are still employed. In their case, any private or public health insurance they have remains primary and Medicare secondary. Note: While you have already paid for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) through payroll deduction, whether or not you enroll in Part B (Medical Insurance) is optional. In you don’t enroll in Part B, your FEHB plan will provide your medical coverage. Check your FEHB plan brochure to see how your claims will be handled in either case.


About Author

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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