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Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,555
Registered: ‎05-19-2010

Re: Retirement and health insurance costs

Someone else may know more and I hope they chime in. I thought if you opted out of Part B (which as you note many retired Feds do), there is a big penalty if you decide to take it later.

I kept my Federal ins into returement AND also signed up for part B.

My worry is the push to eliminate all health insurance - and put us on Medicare for All or some other form of single payer. I see nothing but trouble if that happens.

 

@Isobel Archer  I'm a retired federal employee. I've been on FEP Blue for over 40 years. I don't know about eliminating our insurance (I hope not!), but who knows what they might try to do down the road.

 

I've been following the news about pushing retired postal employees into taking Medicare Part B if they want to continue receiving their health benefits after retiring. Sooner or later I can see this happening, not just to postal retirees, but all federal retirees. From what I've read, most federal employees don't opt for Medicare Part B so forcing them to enroll would put alot of money into the program.

 

Obviously the bill didn't pass, but I wouldn't be surprised if they keep pushing for it.

 

Senate bill would force Postal Service retirees onto Medicare

 

March 27, 2018

 

U.S. Postal Service annuitants would be forced to enroll in Medicare alongside their standard health benefits program if a bipartisan bill introduced last week passes Congress.


The Postal Service Reform Act of 2018, introduced March 23, aims to reverse the net losses USPS has reported in its finances for the past 11 years. But the bill has received mixed reviews from advocates for federal employees who fear other government workers might one day be impacted.


National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association president Richard G. Thissen called the bill an attempt to “balance the books of the United States Postal service on the backs of postal retirees.”


A retiree may have to pay another $1,600 or more per year in Medicare premiums, according to Thissen.


Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Tom Carper, D-Del., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., sponsored the bill.

 

“Nearly two and a half centuries after its founding, the Postal Service remains an important part of our everyday lives and plays a vital role in our economy,” Carper said in a statement.

 

“But it continues to lose money at a record pace. Our economy still depends on a healthy and robust Postal Service. It’s our duty in Congress to pave a fiscally sustainable path that will enable this American institution to thrive.”

 

The USPS defaulted on its multi-billion-dollar retiree health prefunding payments for the fifth time in 2017 and missed the payments it owed to the federal retirement system for the first time. Along with the healthcare changes, the bill also eliminates the existing statutory payment schedule, cancels any outstanding payments and gradually pays off payments over 40 years.

 

“A Postal Service Medicare eligible annuitant subject to this section may not continue coverage under the Postal Service Health Benefits Program unless the Postal Service Medicare eligible annuitant enrolls in Medicare part A, Medicare part B and Medicare part D,” the bill said.


The bill’s Medicare requirement can be waived in cases of “extreme financial hardship,” though the bill does not specify what such cases would look like.

 

Should the bill pass, Postal Service employees and annuitants would be notified of the Medicare requirement and provided information on their options 180 days after passage.


The bill would also create a new Postal Service Health Benefits Program within the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and administered by the Office of Personnel Management.


Some postal groups, such as the United Postmasters and Managers of America, have come out in support of the bill.

 

“UPMA applauds the efforts of Senators Carper, Moran, Heitkamp and McCaskill in introducing bipartisan legislation to further the goal of providing financial relief to the U.S Postal Service, helping safeguard a universal postal system, and encouraging innovation,” said UPMA co-presidents Tony Leonardi and Sean Acord. “UPMA looks forward to continue working with these Senators and other members of Congress to sustain the U.S. Postal Service, a proven national treasure.”

Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,724
Registered: ‎03-13-2010

Re: Retirement and health insurance costs

[ Edited ]

@Eileen in Va wrote:

@I am still oxox  You’re getting a lot of well-intentioned feedback based on experience with plans in the private sector or state/local government. BUT THE RULES THAT APPLY IN THESE SECTORS DON’T NECESSARILY APPLY TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. You need to base your decision on information that you’ve obtained from OPM’s website or the official website of the FEHB plan you and your husband are enrolled in or the one(s) you’re considering transferring to in anticipation of his retirement.

 

If you decide to opt out of the FEHB program on the basis of unofficial information, you won’t be allowed to re-enroll at a later date if problems arise. The fact that you made a decision on the basis of inaccurate information isn’t an acceptable reason for allowing you to re-enroll in the FEHB program. Remember, retirees and survivor annuitants can elect to transfer to a different FEHB plan each year at Open Season, so you aren’t limited to the one your husband had at retirement. You can choose from the full spectrum of the plans participating in the FEHB program. 

 

 

 

 


Thanks, bc I noticed this thread talking about misinformation and then them adding info as to what happens to most people's insurance, not the FEHB.  As I posted farther back my dad signed up for regular Medicare (Part A) when he hit 65 but declined Part B and his BC/BS insurance just continued on as it always did. 

 

He was in the hospital for about 2 months before he died and after a hospital copay, Medicare Part A that he (and most of us) all pay into over the years paid for the bed but nothing else.  Any time anyone walks into the room, any lab taken, any doctor that came to see him which would have been mostly Part B costs  - that was all covered under his plan just as it always was; however, he was responsible for 20%.  

 

Wanna know how confusing this is?  I was dad's medical power of attorney and when his kidneys began to fail he was in dialysis and alternated into and out of the hospital and I spent a lot of time explaining to billing offices they needed to bill the info on his insurance card and I'd pay the balance after I saw that his insurance had paid their share.   I usually had no issues with my or dad's medical when we lived in northern VA bc there is such a high concentration of ppl with federal insurance benefits but the farther away we moved - few understood.  Many ppl didn't understand the concept of not having Medicare Part B.  

Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,154
Registered: ‎04-04-2015

Re: Retirement and health insurance costs


@lmt wrote:

@Patbz wrote:

@I am still oxox :  As a previous poster mentioned, employees of the Federal Govt are subject to very different rules (including that some CSRS employees aren't entitled to Medicare-- as they didn't pay into it).  DH and I are both Federal retirees and have BCBS as our supplement.  It's not the cheapest alternative but we have high medical and prescription costs so that's what works for us.  Another factor is are you living in a rural location (you may be surprised: Santa Barbara is considered "rural"), this definitely affects the cost of your coverage.


@Patbz  I retired (took early out) from the Federal Government almost 5 years ago. I started under CSRS and retired under CSRS after 36 years. I'm not on Medicare and won't be eligible for several more years. I know several people who retired under CSRS and are on Medicare. I never heard of CSRS retirees not being eligible.

 

I found this on the SSA.GOV website .....

 

If you stayed under the CSRS program after 1983, you still are not covered by Social Security. However, you are covered under the Medicare program because you pay Medicare taxes on your Federal earnings.

 

I remember paying the Medicare tax from my wages, I can't remember the exact amount. Currently employees pay 1.45% from their wages - that may have been the same amount I was paying too.


I'm a retired CSRS Fed too.  You are definitely eligible for Medicare - and if you want, OPM will deduct the Part B premium from your annuity check.  They do it for me.

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Valued Contributor
Posts: 765
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: Retirement and health insurance costs

One gets bombarded with mailings and phone calls for Medicare Suppliments. I asked people I worked with and neighbors what they considered.  My suppliment costs $139 but it covers foreign travel which for purchasing coverage is expensive and they push it. I travel out of the country once a year so it pays for half of my costs. My neighbors pay about that for two. with AARP. I went with a plan many retired teachers and school staff chose.

 

I was required to get prescription coverage and added a dental but not so sure the dental was needed in afterthought.

 

Talk to people and use the free advice. You will be contacted too much , in my opinion.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,154
Registered: ‎04-04-2015

Re: Retirement and health insurance costs

You may really want to compare what the FEHB plans pay for with Part B.  I have Kaiser and I get several benefits over and above Part B.  But there are also advantages to Part B.  I have both.   It may seem pricy, but for me, It's worth it.

Valued Contributor
Posts: 901
Registered: ‎08-25-2010

Re: Retirement and health insurance costs

@lmt  President Reagan folded all civilian Federal Employees into Medicare around 1983 to shore up the program. I don’t remember the rate, but he added over 1.5 million contributors at that time. DH and I are both CSRS retirees, but not eligible for Social Security benefits. We’re both eligible for Medicare because we paid into the system during our careers.

Valued Contributor
Posts: 901
Registered: ‎08-25-2010

Re: Retirement and health insurance costs

@I am still oxox  If your head isn’t spinning yet, let me add one more item for your consideration. Your husband may elect, with your notarized written consent, to provide you with less than a full survivor annuity should he die before you. Sometimes the retiree’s spouse has their own retirement income, but they don’t have health insurance coverage comparable to FEHB, so the Federal retiree will elect a lower survivor annuity in an amount that seems sufficient to cover the survivor’s monthly FEHB premiums. If you and your husband are considering this when he retires, please be sure to factor inflation over several decades into the calculation. While Federal annuitants and survivor annuitants don’t always get Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) every year, our FEHB premiums have increased almost every year. At some point, the survivor annuity will no longer cover the FEHB premiums.

 

Two of my friends are the widows of Federal retirees who elected this type of survivor benefit for them. One of them currently receives a little more than $100 per month over the cost of her FEHB premiums. The other’s survivor annuity fell short of the amount she needed to cover her premiums 2 years ago (shortly after her husband died). If/when this happens, OPM notifies the survivor and gives them the option of transferring to an FEHB plan they can afford or making direct payments for their current FEHB plan to the Government. In the latter case, the survivor must pay both the employee share and the Government share of the premiums. I’m sure both of these gentlemen felt confident that they were providing adequately for their wives. But they didn’t consider how long they would live after retiring or how long their wives would live after the husbands died. Hindsight is 20/20. 

Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,555
Registered: ‎05-19-2010

Re: Retirement and health insurance costs


@Eileen in Va wrote:

@lmt  President Reagan folded all civilian Federal Employees into Medicare around 1983 to shore up the program. I don’t remember the rate, but he added over 1.5 million contributors at that time. DH and I are both CSRS retirees, but not eligible for Social Security benefits. We’re both eligible for Medicare because we paid into the system during our careers.


 

@Eileen in Va  I remember when FERS first started. We (at least in my office) never got much information about switching over from CSRS to FERS. I would say that the majority of the people I knew stayed with CSRS. I'm really shocked that we weren't all forced into switching to FERS. When I retired 5 years ago, there weren't many CSRS employees still around - the vast majority had retired.

 

I know I'm eligible for Medicare; someone upthread mentioned that some retired CSRS employees weren't eligible. I never heard of that as I know several friends under CSRS who retired and picked up Medicare Part B.

 

 

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 6,377
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: Retirement and health insurance costs

I was told Medicare was free and automatic at age 65 —- and it’s the part B that cost $$. I will be 65 next month but the hubs is still working and I am covered as well, with much better insurance so I don’t need part B until he retires. but now I have to write to the local office to tell them NOT to take out the $135 from my SS until I need it. WTH !! I should be the one who decides when and if I want it not the freaking government. Such a hassle as is normal these days.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,555
Registered: ‎05-19-2010

Re: Retirement and health insurance costs


@Eileen in Va wrote:

@I am still oxox  If your head isn’t spinning yet, let me add one more item for your consideration. Your husband may elect, with your notarized written consent, to provide you with less than a full survivor annuity should he die before you. Sometimes the retiree’s spouse has their own retirement income, but they don’t have health insurance coverage comparable to FEHB, so the Federal retiree will elect a lower survivor annuity in an amount that seems sufficient to cover the survivor’s monthly FEHB premiums. If you and your husband are considering this when he retires, please be sure to factor inflation over several decades into the calculation. While Federal annuitants and survivor annuitants don’t always get Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) every year, our FEHB premiums have increased almost every year. At some point, the survivor annuity will no longer cover the FEHB premiums.

 

Two of my friends are the widows of Federal retirees who elected this type of survivor benefit for them. One of them currently receives a little more than $100 per month over the cost of her FEHB premiums. The other’s survivor annuity fell short of the amount she needed to cover her premiums 2 years ago (shortly after her husband died). If/when this happens, OPM notifies the survivor and gives them the option of transferring to an FEHB plan they can afford or making direct payments for their current FEHB plan to the Government. In the latter case, the survivor must pay both the employee share and the Government share of the premiums. I’m sure both of these gentlemen felt confident that they were providing adequately for their wives. But they didn’t consider how long they would live after retiring or how long their wives would live after the husbands died. Hindsight is 20/20. 


 

 

@Eileen in Va  The survivor has to also pay the government's share of the premium? 

 

If the annuity isn't enough to cover the deceased employee's share of the health insurance, wouldn't the surviving spouse just have to pay the difference?

 

I've researched and can't find any information that says they'd also be responsible for paying the government's share.