Insurance if retiring overseas


Q. I am planning to retire overseas (probably in Panama) and will be eligible to keep my insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield). I understand that I will continue to pay my part of the insurance and that the federal government will continue to pay the rest.

1. Will the insurance cover me while I am living overseas?

2. What will happen when I turn 65?

3. Will all medical plans from all companies work the same way?

A. If you are enrolled in an HMO, the answer in most cases is no, you won’t be covered if you are living overseas. If you are enrolled in a fee-for-service plan, the answer is yes; however, you’ll need to check your plan brochure and talk with one of its representatives to find out how your health benefits expenses will be billed and what you will be required to pay versus your plan.

At age 65, your FEHB coverage will continue, but the relationship between what you and your plan pay for health benefit expenses will change. That’s because the payments your plan makes are predicated on your being covered by Medicare. Even if you are covered by Medicare, Medicare won’t pay any bills you incur outside the U.S.


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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