Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Carrying health insurance into retirement

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Q. I do not carry Federal Employees Health Benefits because I came to federal employment after retirement from the military and I have Tricare for Life. I have also turned 65 and have Medicare Part B. When I recently went to a retirement planning seminar, I was informed that I could sign up for FEHB during the open season this fall and then carry it into retirement in 2014. Although I would not have the five-year continuous FEHB coverage prior to retirement, I was told that having Tricare will satisfy the five-year requirement.

Further, I was told I could sign up this fall (for let’s say Blue Cross/Blue Shield), carry the insurance into retirement (planning late January/February 2014) and then either continue to carry the Blue Cross or suspend the coverage. By suspending the coverage, I could always go back and pick it up again.

A. Right on all counts. By enrolling in the FEHB program before retiring, you’ll be able to carry that coverage into retirement, as long as the combination of Tricare and FEHB added up to five consecutive years. After retirement, you could continue your FEHB coverage or suspend it in favor of Tricare. If you lost Tricare coverage, you could immediately reactivate your FEHB coverage. If you decided to drop your Tricare coverage, you could reactivate that FEHB coverage during the next open season.

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