Health insurance after retirement


Q. My husband is a federal civil servant and planning to retire in a couple of years. His insurance carrier is the mail handlers benefit plan, enrolled as family plan.

When he retires at age 65½, I understand that Medicaid will take over as his primary health plan. What will happen to the mail handlers benefit plan we’ve been carrying for the past 30 years? Do we have to change it to the supplement B or whatever covers what’s not paid by Medicaid? Or will the mail handlers benefit plan pick up the balance, prescription, etc.?

A. When your husband reaches age 65, he’ll be eligible for Medicare Part A, which is free. If he is retired, it will provide primary coverage for those benefits, with his Federal Employees Health Benefits plan being secondary. If he isn’t retired, his FEHB plan will continue to be primary and Medicare Part A secondary.

Since he is enrolled in the self-and-family option of his FEHB plan, it will provide primary coverage for you unless you become eligible for Medicare Part A. Then, Medicare Part A will be primary for you and the FEHB plan secondary. Note: Whether either of you decide to enroll in Medicare Part B is up to you. If you do, you’ll have to pay the premiums, and Medicare Part B will be primary for those covered services.


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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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