FEHB vs. Medicare supplement


Q. My spouse turns 65 this year and will be eligible for Medicare. She currently is listed as my dependent in the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan. Because the federal government does not offer a husband/wife option in FEHB plans, could I drop her from my current FEHB and use her Medicare as primary and purchase a supplement on my own and change my FEHB status to single until I retire? I believe the overall cost would be less and most likely be to our advantage, with no more networks to deal with.

A. You are making assumptions that may not be valid. While it’s conceivable that you could save money by shifting your coverage to self only and your wife’s to Medicare and a supplemental, you need to check out the real costs to be sure. While Medicare Part A is free, Part B isn’t. Also, supplemental plans are tricky rascals whose costs and coverage are all over the lot. More importantly, you need to make sure that the resulting benefits will at least match what she would have under your FEHB plan plus Medicare. Because I doubt that they will, I urge you be very careful before you put your wife at risk to save a few bucks.


About Author

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

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