Medicare Part A, dependent coverage and premiums


Q. I am turning 65 in January. I am trying to decide if I should sign up for Medicare Part A.  Am I required to sign up for that benefit, or is it an option?

I understand that if I sign up now, my federal health insurance will remain primary and Medicare part A will become secondary. But after I retire, that relationship will flip. Here’s my concern about that:

My 36-year-old daughter is mentally retarded and she has been and is covered under my federal health plan (Blue Cross/Blue Shield). If Medicare Part A becomes my primary insurance after I retire, and if my federal health insurance then becomes secondary, will my daughter continue to be covered under my federal health plan?

Finally, my employer (Gallaudet University) pays a portion of my health insurance premium. After I retire, the premium will be deducted from my retirement annuity. Will I be required to pay the full premium, or will my federal retirement benefits pick up a portion of the premium like my employer does now?

A. You have already paid for Medicare Part A through payroll deductions. Therefore, it makes no sense to turn down the benefits, especially since your Federal Employees Health Benefits plan will modify its benefits on the assumption that you are enrolled in Part A. It will not modify those benefits for anyone who isn’t eligible for Medicare Part A, such as your daughter.


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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