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.


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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


  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?

  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.

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