Health care in retirement


Q: I intend to retire Dec. 31 from the Department of Health and Human Services. I have had a family health insurance plan (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) for 20-plus years. My wife is a federal government employee. We want to transfer coverage from my agency to her agency (Labor Department) during the open season.

First, how do we make sure that the transfer of payment for coverage and the policy will assure that the five-year required continuous coverage is maintained? Second, if we are able to transfer and maintain continuous coverage, will my wife’s plan be my primary insurance after retirement, with Medicare secondary?

A: As long as you are enrolled in or covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program for five years, you may continue that coverage into retirement. It doesn’t make any difference who is carrying the self and family enrollment. If you are still working when you become eligible for Medicare, your FEHB plan would be primary and Medicare secondary. If you aren’t working, Medicare would be primary and FEHB secondary.


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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