Medicare Part B


Q. I retired in 2011 from the United States Postal Service. I kept BCBS insurance. I only signed up for Medicare Part A. If I choose to sign up for Part B now and drop BCBS, will I have to pay a penalty?

A. Yes, you would have to pay a penalty. And it might be a whopper. Because you didn’t sign up when you were first eligible to do so, the premium you’d have to pay would be 10 percent higher for each year you were eligible to enroll in Part B and didn’t.


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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


      • Sandra Snowberger on

        My spouse has insurance from the state, whom she works for, and we are considering putting me on her insurance. I am retired from Postal Service and have
        bcbs insurance. Is it necessary for me to suspend this insurance, or advisable.

        • It isn’t necessary to suspend your FEHB coverage. More importantly, there is no provision in law or regulation that would allow you to “suspend” your coverage. You could only drop it; and, if you did that, as a retiree you would be permanently barred from re-enrolling in the program.

  1. Ricky A. Gabbard on

    To my understanding and the Medicare Website. If you were on BCBS since retirement and elect to drop the BCBS and apply for Medicare Part B. You should not be penalized the 10% per year “If” you were covered by private insurance. You just need to send proof of this coverage to SSA/Medicare along with the application, showing proof of no laps in coverage.

    I am turning 65 this year and am looking at getting Part B in addition lowering my FEHB/BCBS from Standard to Basic this change in premiums should off set the Part B cost and FEHB/BCBS should negate the need for Part D or a Supplement/Medi-Gap.

    Therefore if I have a problem with it I would still be in the FEHB system and able to change coverage.

    This is my interpretation only, I yield to the experts.

    • It’s been my understanding that coverage under the FEHB program only exempts you from enrolling in Medicare Part B while you are still employed and that exemption ends when you retire.

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