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Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,774
Registered: ‎08-25-2010

Re: Federal retiree and Medicare Part B

[ Edited ]

@DecorDiva wrote:

I'm approaching my 65th birthday in Sept and will be picking up Medicare.  As a retired federal employee I retained my health insurance that I had when I was working.  My question is:  should I pick up Medicare Part B?  If any of you have a similar situation and could give me your perspective, I would really appreciate it.  I haven't yet begun any research into this.  


@DecorDiva  DH and I are both retired Feds who who went on Medicare a few years ago (him a year before me). We both opted for Medicare A & B as primary, with our Blue Cross FEHB as secondary. In addition to conducting online research, we consulted with a few very thrifty friends (we figured they were so cheap, it had to be worth it if they had Part B). Although it entails paying another set of premiums (quarterly), it has been very well worth it. We haven't had to pay a copay since enrolling in Part B. Four months after enrolling, DH had to have surgery that required staying in the hospital for 4 days. We didn't pay a dime and he had a private room. I had a same-day surgical procedure last Fall and, again, we didn't pay a dime. Another friend and her husband decided against enrolling in Part B. At times, they both have PT twice a week and pay over $100 per week in copays. They've thought about enrolling in Part B, but they'd have to pay a hefty penalty for late enrollment. 

Are you a CSRS retiree (the old retirement system) or a FERS retire (the newer retirement system)? My brother retired under FERS with a Social Security component. He was automatically enrolled in both Medicare A and B because he was receiving Social Security as part of his annuity. So you may not have to make this decision if you're FERS.

 

VERY IMPORTANT: You're going to be inundated with emails, phone calls and brochures for private sector Medicare Advantage plans that will tempt you to drop your FEHB coverage. DON'T DO IT!  If you drop your FEHB coverage, you won't be able to pick it up again at a later date because active Federal employees are the only ones who can enroll in FEHB if they aren't already covered. As a retiree, you can elect a different FEHB plan during Open Season if your needs change, have the same coverage as active employees, pay the same premiums as active employees (even if your health deteriorates as you age), etc. While our FEHB premiums may increase from year to year, they won't increase due to your age or retiree status. In fact, DH and I get an annual rebate from BlueCross because we're enrolled in Part B with Basic BC/BS. It helps defray our Part B premiums. In 2019 the rebate was $600 each and in 2020 it's $800 each.
NOTE CORRECTION: the rebate applies to the BC/BS Basic option, not Standard as originally erroneously stated. 

We were concerned about going on Medicare before DH turned 65. With our combination of Medicare A & B and FEHB, we've had nothing but good experiences. 

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 134
Registered: ‎05-09-2010

Re: Federal retiree and Medicare Part B

@Eileen in VA

Can you tell me more about how one gets a rebate? Or where to get this information. I think that we may have the same insurance and I do not get a rebate. TIA

Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,774
Registered: ‎08-25-2010

Re: Federal retiree and Medicare Part B


@Q-Checker wrote:

@Eileen in VA

Can you tell me more about how one gets a rebate? Or where to get this information. I think that we may have the same insurance and I do not get a rebate. TIA


@Q-Checker  You have to be enrolled in Medicare Part B and FEHB Blue Cross/Blue Shield Basic option (not Standard, my mistake - I'll have to correct my earlier reply). After you pay your quarterly Part B premium, you go to the BC/BS FEHB Wageworks website and print off the Medicare Reimbursement Account (MRA) Pay Me Back claim form. Follow the directions and submit the required documents and they send you your reimbursement. I always keep a copy of everything I submitted, just in case. 

Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,367
Registered: ‎03-11-2010

Re: Federal retiree and Medicare Part B


@DecorDiva wrote:

I'm approaching my 65th birthday in Sept and will be picking up Medicare.  As a retired federal employee I retained my health insurance that I had when I was working.  My question is:  should I pick up Medicare Part B?  If any of you have a similar situation and could give me your perspective, I would really appreciate it.  I haven't yet begun any research into this.  


 

 

I would recommend signing up for Medicare Part B as soon as you are eligible.  Keep it for awhile and see if it is worth the expense.  If you find that it is not a good financial deal for you, you can always drop it later.  

 

My sister-in-law is a retired Federal employee, under CSRS, and she has Medicare Parts A and B and kept her FEHB coverage (BC/BS Standard Option).  She has had several hospitalizations, surgeries, ambulance "rides", physical therapy, and she didn't have to pay a cent.  Part B even pays for ALL of her CPAP supplies which more than offsets the cost of Part B.  Her only out of pocket expenses has been for her prescription co-pays.  She is extremely satisfied with her coverage and believes it is well worth the cost of the premiums.

 

 

 

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 134
Registered: ‎05-09-2010

Re: Federal retiree and Medicare Part B

 @Eileen in VA, thanks for the clarification and the update! I have FEHB Blue Cross/Blue Shield (Standard) and am a retiree under the old CSRS, not FERS. So, no rebate. I have been very pleased with this as my Seconday Insurance after Medicare A and B. It includes very generous allowances for med's, some regularly prescribed med's costing zero dollars and others costing only a dollar for a three month supply.  Thus, no need for Plan D. 

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 6,830
Registered: ‎03-15-2010

Re: Federal retiree and Medicare Part B

@Q-Checker 

 

A bit off topic...but, I'm under CSRS too. 

 

Was given the opportunity to change to FERS, but already had 15 years under the old plan.

 

Am so glad I did not change.  I did contribute to the Thrift Plan, however.

 

All those years of working have helped provide a secure future!  I'm thankful every day.

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 134
Registered: ‎05-09-2010

Re: Federal retiree and Medicare Part B

@Witchy Woman -- me, too! Everything that you said is also true in my case and I am grateful that I stuck with a job that ...... I kept my eye on the prize and it has paid off.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,295
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: Federal retiree and Medicare Part B

My husband is a retired federal employee, the old system, he doesn't get SS so he did have to sign up for Medicare when he turned 65 and he did pick up Part B and his federal health insurance, which he kept, became the secondary health insurance.  Everyone is right when they tell you if you drop your federal health insurance, you can't get it back again.  He does get the rebate but you have to show that you paid your premiums to get the money, it is not automatic and you must apply for it every year, it was $600/year but they recently increased it to $800/year.  I didn't work for the federal government but I get to be on his insurance now and also get to keep it if he passes away first.  If you keep your federal health insurance as your secondary insurance, you do not have to pick up Part D.  If you are a retired federal employee they had seminars that employees could attend and everything was explained to them and my husband also got a really big binder that explained all benefits, retirement, health, etc. that was available to you when you retired.  The old federal retirement system, is extremely generous.  They changed the system in the mid-1980's but my husband was already in the old system and decided to stay in the old system, the best decision he ever made, besides marrying me of course!!!  Good luck!

Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,342
Registered: ‎03-02-2014

Re: Federal retiree and Medicare Part B

@Eileen in VA  - Yes, I am under CSRS (thank goodness!)  Do you sign up for Part B at the same time you enroll in Medicare?  Do you select a plan for Part B, or is it the same for everyone?  Are the plans for Part B the same plans that are called Medicare Advantage Plans?  And how do they bill you if you don't collect Social Security?  After I retired I took a part time job to get my 40 quarters, so I will collect a small benefit albeit reduced by the Windfall Elimination Provision.  Currently I have United Healthcare MDIPA, so I don't know if they subsidize Part B or how they coordinate with Medicare.  I would never drop my federal insurance and from what I've read here, I will probably get Part B.  

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 6,830
Registered: ‎03-15-2010

Re: Federal retiree and Medicare Part B

@DecorDiva 

 

I never did discover the info I looked at regarding Part B, but I believe I it was emphasized in the pre-retirement briefings, so I just signed on at the first opportunity rather than be penalized.

 

Once I was eligible for Medicare, I just showed both cards at the doctor's office, and no questions asked from them.  Whatever billing was necessary, they handled it.

 

Medicare bills me quartlerly for my benefits, and you can pay by check or credit card.  You can also sign up for auto payment (if you aren't getting SS benefits) on the Medicare.gov websites.

 

Having your Federal health plan really eliminates the need for having any other plan.

 

Not sure if any of that helps, but I thought I'd offer it.