Switching from family to individual private health coverage


Q. I am five years older than my wife, retired under CSRS and about to turn 65 in January. My wife is a federal employee and has been covered as a dependent under my family policy for many years. She may be retiring within three years or so. I plan to sign up for Medicare parts A and B and keep Blue Cross coverage so I don’t need to sign up for Medicare Part D.

1. I understand it may be cheaper under Medicare to have individual Blue Cross policies rather than a family policy.

2. Also, my wife can deduct premiums while she is working but I cannot if I have only retirement income.

3. Can my wife switch to an individual Blue Cross policy at work and continue it into retirement, even though she has been under the individual policy for only a few years? (She has been under a family policy for many years,)

4. I assume that it is cheaper in Medicare for both of us to have individual Blue Cross policies rather than a family policy. Are there other things we should consider such as co-pay differences?

A. You could both switch to individual enrollments during the next health benefits open season. The only requirement to carry such coverage into retirement is that a person be enrolled in or covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits program for five years before he or she retires. As for the rest, I have neither information nor an opinion to share.


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.

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