Figuring out primary, secondary coverage


Q. I plan to retire in a few years. I am currently 67 years old, participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield and am enrolled in Medicare Part A, which is free and required at 65. I do not wish to participate in Medicare Part B because, from the way I see it, I would be paying for two primary insurers even when I retire. Am I entitled to continue with my FEHB as my primary coverage, and would I be entitled to the same choices as though I were still working for the government? I feel that Blue Cross is the better of the two coverages and Medicare Part B and my portion of my Basic Plan with BCBS is about the same cost to me and Blue Cross is readily accepted by all doctors.

A. Once you retire, Medicare Part A will be primary and your FEHB plan secondary. If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B, your FEHB plan will be your only coverage, but it won’t pay benefits in the same way it did when you were employed. How that is done is explained on pages 24 and 25 of your 2011 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan brochure.


About Author

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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