Medicare Part B and spouse coverage


Q. I’m older than my spouse, and am already on Medicare Part A. I have Blue Cross/Blue Shield for Part B, and that is our primary family insurance. When I retire, I understand that I must take Part B of Medicare (I’ll be 73 when I retire). However, my spouse will only be 61 — too young for Medicare — so I plan to continue BC/BS family plan. Do I still need to sign up for Medicare Part B even though I’ll keep the BC/BS? Or should I just keep the BC/BS for single coverage (for my spouse)?

A. First, Medicare Part B is optional. It’s up to you to decide if you want to pay for that coverage. Second, if you changed from a BC/BS self-and-family enrollment to a self-only enrollment, only you would be covered. The only way your wife could continue to be covered by your Federal Employees Health Benefits plan is if you retained the self-and-family option.


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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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