Two self-and-family plans


Q. My husband worked for a company and retired after 31 years and was able to keep his group health plan coverage, too. He then began working for the post office and enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Blue Cross Blue Shield (105) health plan. He has now retired (FERS) from the post office with 18 years of service. We both have enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. The first employer required that we be enrolled in Medicare Part B to keep its group health plan coverage. We also kept his FEHB plan when he retired. When he worked at the post office, the FEHB plan was primary and the other employer’s plan was secondary. In retirement, Medicare has become our primary coverage. Which plan is secondary and why: the first employer plan or our FEHB plan? Both plans are self-and-family coverage.

A. That’s a coordination of benefits question, which will have to be worked out between you and your carriers. Because it’s uncommon for a family to have two self-and-family coverages — something that wouldn’t be permitted if you both were enrolled in FEHB plans — the answer may lie in which plan you put down as secondary when you get medical care. If you put down both, expect an inter-plan tussle over who goes first and who goes last.


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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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