Medicare Part B


Q. I’m not sure I understand the reasoning for federal retirees to not sign up for Medicare Part B? Are you saying that federal retirees who become eligible for Medicare parts A and B don’t sign up for Part B because there is better coverage under FEHB plans at a lower cost? What about deductibles and co-payments?

A. According to NARFE, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, for most federal retirees, the additional benefits provided under Medicare Part B aren’t worth the premiums they’d have to pay. While NARFE acknowledges there are exceptions to that general rule, those apply to particular individuals with medical costs covered by Part B that would exceed the Part B premiums.


About Author

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


  1. That makes sense, but how does Tricare For Life (TFL) play into this? Does TFL act as a secondary payer to FEHB and does TFL mandate enrollment in Medicare Part B if FEHB is already in place for a federal retiree?

        • Michael Potter on

          If you are entitled to premium-free Medicare Part A, you must also have Medicare Part B to keep TRICARE, regardless of your age or place of residence (exceptions to this rule are discussed in the Delaying Part B Enrollment section of this brochure). Once you have both Part A and Part B, you automatically receive TRICARE benefits under TFL. Keeping your information up to date in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) is key to ensuring effective, timely delivery of your TRICARE benefits.

  2. Better check the language in Part 9 of your federal health plan before you decide NOT to enroll in Medicare Part A and B. I’m sure they are all pretty standard, but my federal health plan says that if you do NOT enroll in Medicare Part A and B at age 65, the plan will pay no more than what you would be entitled to under Medicare. Check it out before you decide.

  3. I am 76 years of age and have carried medicare part B as well as fed blue cross blue/blue shield since I retired but I am considering dropping medicare part B because cost has arisen to over $500.00 per month for my wife and I because of my 2016 income. Are there any negative consequences to dropping Part B?

    • NARFE, the National Association of Current and Retired Federal Employees, believes that most federal retirees only need Part B coverage if they require products or services that aren’t covered by their FEHB plan. Although you will have to pay the co-insurances and deductibles (and for certain services) that are waived when covered by Part B, it may be less expensive than the premiums for Part B.

      • Glenn Robinson on

        I retired from DoD in 2013 at age 66, and have BCBS Basic (Self+1) and Medicare Part A only. My wife will turn 65 in late April and will, of course, enroll in Part A.

        We are trying to decide if she should enroll in Part B. If I die before she does and she then retains enrollment in FEHB as my beneficiary, would the same logic as discussed above apply to her? I assume it would but don’t want to rely on assumptions. Thanks.

          • I was totally unprepared for Medicare. I retired from the federal government in 2011 and continued my BCBS FEP family plan. I still have a 21 year old college student. I have type 2 diabetes and I turned 65 in December 2018. I registered for Medicare A & B . I was shocked to receive $1100 Bill for PART B a few weeks ago. Am I paying double?

            What should I do?

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