FEHB and Medicare


Q. I am a federal employee under CSRS in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. I signed up for Medicare Part B when I turned 65 so as to avoid the 10 percent annual penalty. But after paying for seven months, I dropped out of Part B because I was told I didn’t need to buy it if I had group coverage. I called Medicare and this was confirmed, though I may not have said I was retired but just that I was in FEHB. My wife is two years younger than I, so I had to retain the FEHB coverage until April 2012, when she turns 65. I recently read in the Medicare booklet that “one need not sign up for Part B if they are in a group plan sponsored by an employer.” Did I screw up and cost myself 20 percent when I sign up for Part B again, in April? I fear leaving the FEHB for Part B and supplemental coverage because who knows which premiums will increase faster. Can I switch in April to a self-only policy, with my wife going to Part B plus a supplemental? If I do so, may I never thereafter switch to “self and family” in the FEHB open seasons to follow?

A. While I don’t think you’ll be penalized when you re-enroll in Part B, you’ll have to confirm that with Medicare. As for the FEHB program, you can switch to self-only coverage during any open season, and you can also switch to self and family during any open season. However, you cannot switch in April.


About Author

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

Leave A Reply