Q. I have had the Mailhandlers benefit plan for more than 20 years. I assumed that when I retired, the plan would continue. When I turned 65 this year, I was bombarded with Medicare brochures, but, remained calm because I thought Mailhandlers was taking care of business as usual. Prior to my birthday, I received a bill to pay for three months of Medicare Part B. Why do I have to carry Mailhandlers and then pay for Part B? Also, Social Security sent a card that says if you want to opt out of Part B, sign this card. I didn’t sign the card because it said Part A and Part B on it. Social Security was no help; Mailhandlers really didn’t answer my question. My husband was self-employed and he is on my Mailhandlers plan and that’s also another reason I don’t want to drop it. When Mailhandlers introduced the “Value Plan,” I enrolled in that plan. This year they say “standard” Plan works with Medicare, but the standard plan is $300 a month more. This is extremely confusing.

A. I don’t usually give advice because one size doesn’t fit all. However, here’s one piece of advice you can take to the bank: Don’t drop your coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. If you do, because you are retired, you wouldn’t be able to re-enroll.

You have already paid for Medicare Part A and it will cost you nothing to remain covered by it. Part B is optional. If you don’t want it, let them know and you will owe nothing. Making that decision will require you to review your Mailhandler’s coverage and compare it with what you’d be gaining by enrolling in Part B. Many retirees choose not to enroll in Part B because their current and anticipated needs are less than the premiums they’d have to pay. However, if your situation is different, it might be to your financial advantage to enroll.

You’ll have to compare the benefits provided by your Mailhandlers “Value Plan” against those provided in the Standard option to see which would best meet your financial and family health needs. Take special note of any benefit of having the Standard option and Medicare Part A (and B, if you decide to enroll in that), which would offset the higher cost.


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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

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