Medicare Part B


Q. My wife, who is younger than me, is a retired federal employee with health insurance (FEHB: Blue Cross) that covers both of us. I will turn 65 this year. If I fail to take Medicare Part B within three months of turning 65, then I will have to:

1. Wait for open enrollment for Medicare and then six months; and

2. Pay a penalty for each year.

When I called Blue Cross, they indicated that if my wife continues with her plan, there is no reason to take Part B. Social Security warns me about the 10 percent-per-year cost increase and the open enrollment period being three months and I have to wait until the following July. I am still working, basically self-employed. Any advice?

A. Your open enrollment period for Part B begins three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after that month. Whether you should enroll in Part B is entirely up to you. As I’ve repeatedly said, some do and some don’t. It’s a matter of comparing what you’d get by enrolling in Part B with the costs.

If you don’t enroll during the window mentioned above and later decide to do so, your premiums will be 10 percent higher for each 12-month period that you could have been enrolled and weren’t.


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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