Tricare, Medicare or Blue Cross?


Q. I am 65 and plan to retire in two years. I have Medicare now as my primary. I have federal Blue Cross as secondary and Tricare as third. (I am a retired Navy veteran.)

My wife is 59.  She has had four knee replacements and has a lot of issues with arthritis. Tricare says I have to have Medicare Part A and B. Once I drop Tricare, I understand I cannot get it back.

I feel that my wife and I are grossly overinsured. However, it appears that I have to keep it all — Medicare A and B, Blue Cross and Tricare — for my wife and I to be covered in the future when needed.

Do I have any options? Should I keep Tricare, or should I drop the Part B of Medicare and just use my Blue Cross?

A. While I can’t advise you on what to do, I can confirm some of what you’ve written. First, to be enrolled in Tricare, you must be enrolled in Medicare parts A and B. Second, if you drop Tricare, you can’t re-enroll in it. Third, if you drop you FEHB coverage when employed, you could re-enroll later but would be required to be enrolled for the five consecutive years after that re-enrollment to continue the coverage into retirement. Fourth, after retiring you could suspend — not drop — your FEHB enrollment and reactivate it if your Tricare coverage ended.

Because you know what the current medical needs are for you and your wife and can make an educated guess about what they may be in the future, you can review the benefits offered by the different combinations of coverage and see if one best meets the cost-benefit criteria.


About Author

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


  1. Steven Burden on

    I have a similar, but different situation:

    My wife is 57 yo medically retired DoD federal worker. I am 60 yo Retired Army. My wife was also put on SSA when she was retired from federal service. Under SSA she was forced onto Medicare part A only, so she has:
    Medicare Part A, Primary, hospitalization only
    FEHB, Primary
    No Tricare since she does not have Medicare Part B

    I have FEHB (through her service), Primary
    Tricare (through my service), Secondary

    We pay nearly $6000 a year for our BCBS Fed, and the only way I know of to actually have Tricare cover her is to spend the extra $1200 a year for Part B.

    My wife was just diagnosed with an inoperable Glioblastoma Multiforma so our medical bills are quickly mounting. If I add Part B, will Tricare actually kick in as a valid secondary? How would our coverage change, under Medicare (A&B), BCBS Federal and Tricare for life?

      • Steven Burden on

        Well, since I have literally read dozens of comments and blog posts on this site regarding FEHB, Tricare and Medicare that seems extraordinary–and that my wife is a Retired GS-11 DOD Federal Civilian, that makes any sense at all! But, if you have nothing intelligent to add, so be it.

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