Q: What advantages, if any, are there for a retired federal employee whose primary residence is Thailand to enroll in Medicare? I am 68 years old, receiving Social Security benefits, and I am enrolled in the Blue Cross federal employee plan.
A: Because Medicare generally does not cover health services you get outside the United States, it depends on whether you will be a permanent resident of another country or will be returning periodically to the U.S. At a minimum, you should enroll in Medicare Part A (hospital) because that coverage is free. You already paid for it through payroll deductions. On the other hand, if you sign up for Medicare Part B (medical), you would have to pay the monthly premiums. In making up your mind about that, you need to know that if you don’t sign up when you are first eligible, the cost of those premiums will be 10 percent higher for each 12-month period you could have been enrolled but were not.