Q. I am a Postal Service employee who has been under CSRS since 1980. Am I under Medicare? Do I apply for Medicare at 65? I understand that, at 65, Medicare becomes primary and pays 80 percent, but since I am in the federal health care system, is that actually primary? My confusion is that we pay the same for health care under the federal health care system while working as we do when we are retired, so I am thinking that our health plan remains primary. So do we even need to apply for Medicare? Why would we need it to be primary? Isn’t our health plan still primary? Also, what happens if the Postal Service starts its own health plan? Will it remain primary, or do we apply for Medicare and will there be a supplemental price for supplemental insurance through that?

A. You will be eligible for Medicare Part A because you’ve been paying for that benefit through payroll deductions since 1983. You should sign up for it because it doesn’t cost you anything to do so. While you are still working, your Federal Employees Health Benefits plan will be primary and Medicare Part A secondary.

When you retire, the reverse will be true. Medicare Part B is a different kettle of fish. If you want to sign up for it, you’ll have to pay the premiums. It’s up to you to decide if the benefits of Part B, when combined with your FEHB plan, are worth the cost.

At this point in time, no one knows if the Postal Service will be able to set up a new health plan for its employees and retirees or what such a plan would look like.


About Author

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

Leave A Reply