Medicare Part B


Q. I have reached retirement age and applied for Medicare. I signed up for Medicare Part A but am unsure if I must sign up for Medicare Part B. I have Federal Employees Health Benefits and carried it into retirement. I assume my FEHB will cover the same items as Medicare Part B. Do I have to sign up for Medicare Part B and be charged for Medicare Part B as long as I have FEHB coverage? Seems like the only one gaining on this is the FEHB plan as second payer for physicians’ services.

A. No one is required to enroll in Medicare Part B. You are free to decline it. Many eligible enrollees in the FEHB program do just that because they believe the benefits don’t match the extra cost. However, others have compared their current and future needs with the costs and found it worth the premiums. In the end, deciding whether to take Part B is a personal matter.


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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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