Medicare, Tricare and Blue Cross Blue Shield


Q: I retired on disability in June of 2009, with 60 percent service connected disability. Since then I have kept BCBS and Tricare. I have just been notified that I am on Medicare part A, and unless I opt out, will be on Medicare part B also. I have three dependents on my BCBS and Tricare, ages 20 to 22. Should I, as seems best, turn down the part B coverage? Does that invalidate Tricare, as the booklet seems to say? With BCBS and Tricare, I pay nothing for co-pay, and little for prescriptions. What are my options? It seems that if I was going to be on Medicare, it would have happened last year. What about my dependents who are covered until age 26 with BCBS?

A: I can’t offer you any advice. What I can do is provide you with some facts that may help you to make up your own mind. First, if you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B, you will lose your coverage under Tricare. Second, if you do enroll and retain your Tricare coverage, your unmarried dependent children will be covered until age 21 unless they are full-time students. If they are, coverage ends at age 23 or when they are no longer full-time students, whichever comes first. Third, if you retain your Federal Employees Health Benefits enrollment, they will be covered up to age 26.


About Author

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


  1. I am 69 and have Medicare Parts A&B, Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal (secondary), and Tricare for Life (tertiary). This is wonderful coverage, but it seems to be a bit of overkill. My portion of the BCBS premium is currently about $550/month, while my Tricare premium is zero.

    I am considering suspending the BCBS (and avoiding the premiums) and using Tricare as secondary, if I can be convinced it would provide adequate coverage. I recognize that the Tricare coverage is probably less extensive than that of BCBS.

    I would like to do a comparative analysis of the two but am at a loss as to how to start (particularly given the Medicare write-offs). Any suggestions, or experience from others that you could share? Thanks.

    • Unfortunately, no. However, the vast majority of those in the same situation as you who have contacted me say that they have suspended their FEHB coverage and are happy with that decision.

    • While you are entitled to Medicare Part A at no cost to yourself, to be eligible for Tricare you must be enrolled in Part B and pay the premiums. On the other hand, you can suspend – not drop – your Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage. That way you can reactivate your BC/BS coverage if Tricare no longer meets your needs.

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