Medicare Part B


Q. I am a retired federal employee that kept my health benefits, which is BCBS Standard, after retirement. My husband is retired military and we are covered under Tricare Prime also. I want to know if my current BCBS coverage will satisfy the Part B plan when I switch to Tricare For Life. I get the deer in the headlights look when I talk to the Tricare people.

A. No. Your enrollment in an FEHB plan will not satisfy the requirement that you be covered by Medicare Part B.


About Author

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


  1. Tricare for Life (TFL) is a total screw job that was concocted as a result of Bud Day’s unsuccessful lawsuit against DOD for reneging on free medical for life for military retirees. Basically, TFL is nothing more than Medicare Parts A and B with Tricare as the secondary bill payer to Medicare Part B. You have to pay the Medicare Part B premiums. You need to do some analysis to figure out whether it is better to stick with BC/BS or TFL. I have fortunately kept both options open and my suspicions are that BC/BS will overall probably be a better deal.

    • I don’t know, Paul. My mother has had TFL and Medicare for 20+ years and has paid 0 out-of-pocket medical costs outside of her Medicare premiums in all that time. Medicare premiums are generally far less costly than any FEHB program costs, and TFL is free…I don’t think there is a more comprehensive and cost-effective health program for seniors anywhere.

      • Here’s the rub. Generally speaking what you say is correct. The problem has been that more and more doctors are refusing patients with Medicare. Why is that? Part of the reason was Obama’s raiding of the Medicare accounts to pay for Obamacare, which necessitated tightening of Medicare reimbursement rules. The bigger issue is the solvency of the Medicare program. Medicare, like Social Security, is an inter-generational Ponzi scheme. Eventually, like all Ponzi schemes, the pyramid collapses and you run out of money. So what is the solvency of the Medicare program? At the current rate, Medicare will become insolvent in 8 years (2026), right when I am scheduled to transition to TFL/Medicare. I don’t know about you, but that fact doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

  2. Karen Mamalakis on

    So I am retired OPM with BCBS standard & am 58. My medicare sets in Oct 1, 2018. What parts of Medicare do I need to take? I called BCBS, asked and am still not sure. It’s all Greek to me! Thanks, Karen

  3. My wife retired under FERS in 2016. I am retired military so we have been using her BCBS benefit as a primary insurance @ a cost of about $400 a month. We have used TRICARE Standard as a secondary insurance that picks up all the costs for Co-pays that are required by BCBS, so essentially no out of pocket costs. We will both be eligible for MEDICRE/TFL in 2021. At that time, we will “suspend” the BCBS FERS benefit and Medicare will become the primary insurance and TFL will be the secondary payer. While I agree that many providers are not taking additional Medicare patients, there should not be any reason for them to deny and patient that has TFL as a secondary payer thereby getting greater reimbursement than if the patient had only Medicare. Should I be wrong and/or Paul’s fears come true, FERS employees that “suspend” their federal healthcare benefit are allowed to re-activate it which we will do if needed to get better coverage. I work in the healthcare sector and I believe that Medicare backed up by TFL is the best coverage at the least cost available anywhere. My two cents.

  4. I’m all for suspending my BCBS coverage when I reach age 60 (retired reserve eligibility date). Both BCBS and Tricare select have about the same copay and deductibles. However, Tricare select costs $0 per month and has a lower catastrophic limit. The monthly payments alone saves me $7,070 per year. When I reach 65 I’m switching to TFL.

    As for TFL and Medicare part B all I have to do is look at my Dad. All he paid was $1,608 per year in Part B premiums. When he had stage 4 lymphoma he received a Fileflight ride, two ambulance trips, 2 weeks in ICU, 1 week in the hospital and 1 week in a rehab facility. He paid nothing. What would the copay be for BCBS?

  5. I retired under FERS in 2017. My husband is retired military. We are raising grandchildren (currently 20, 15, and 12). We turn 65 next year. I carried BCBS into retirement and we use Tricare Select as our backup. What is best for covering us and our grandkids when we turn 65? They currently are covered under both BCBS and Tricare.

  6. i am still employed and have BCBS. My wife is retired DOD and has continued FEHB. We are both over 65, have Medicare A&B, and I am retired military and have TFL.
    Am we needlessly paying for BCBS and FEHB? The only argument I have heard is that Medicare may become insolvent or will reduce the coverage so much that good doctors will no longer accept Medicare patients.

    Any words of wisdom will be appreciated.

    • There are no plans for Medicare to reduce benefits nor is it going to become insolvent. However, it might make sense for you to suspend your FEHB coverage. That way you could restart it during any open season if you felt you needed it.

Leave A Reply