Tricare, Medicare or Blue Cross?

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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.

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  1. It is my understanding that at age 65 a Veteran loses Tricare and is automatically switched to Tricare for Life (TFL). In order to have TFL one must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A&B. Medicare becomes the primary insurance and TFL becomes the secondary. There is no requirement to enroll in Medicare part D as TFL will cover most prescription costs.
    This is accordint to the Tricare website.

  2. If the employee dropped the FEHB he could pick it up again and be eligible to continue it in retirement as long as he is covered by TriCare. TriCare qualifies and covers the requirement for the five years of coverage prior to retirement. However, the employee must re-enroll in the FEHB insurance prior to retirement if he wants to carry it into retirement.

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