Retirement planning, health-wise


Q.  I currently have FEHB Blue Health insurance. I am eligible for Tricare in November 2012. I plan to switch to the cheaper health plan next year during open season at the time Tricare starts. I plan to retire from the VA in May 2013 with 5.5 years’ service. I will meet the -five-year requirement but can I change from the expensive plan to the cheapest plan six months before I retire? Or is this even allowed?

If not, can I switch to the cheaper plan this year during open season? Neither my wife nor I have any major health problems and we have no children at home. Plus, what happens to my two health plans when Medicare starts at age 65? Do I have to pay for both plans for life?

A.  You can switch to a lower cost plan during any open season. When you are enrolled in Tricare, you can suspend your FEHB coverage. That way you can reactivate that coverage if you ever lose coverage under Tricare. When you become eligible for Medicare, you will receive Part A at no cost to your self; however, under Tricare rules, you will be required to enroll in Part B and pay the premiums.


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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