Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

FEHB, Medicare Part B and spouse coverage

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Q. I am a retired annuitant covered under Federal Employees Health Benefits with the HMO Kaiser Permanente Family Plan. I have moved to Ohio to care for my 91-year-old mother. My wife remains in our home in California. I have no coverage in Ohio with Kaiser Permanente for personal physician/prescriptions. Can I enroll in Medicare Part B using a special enrollment period and without penalty due to the fact that I have had continuous health care coverage with FEHB/HMO and have now moved?

Last enrollment period, I was informed that if I enrolled in Medicare B, my wife would have no coverage with Kaiser Permanente. Prior to that, I was advised by a Kaiser Medicare specialist to remain with Kaiser coverage because it was better than Medicare Part B. I have no proof or paper trail of any Kaiser Permanente verbal exchange. I retired in 1999 after Oakland Army Base closed. I am age 68.

A. No, you aren’t exempt from the late enrollment penalty. Only those FEHB enrollees who are currently employed by the federal government can avoid that penalty.

P.S. Whoever told you that if you enrolled in Medicare Part B, your wife would have no coverage under Kaiser Permanente was wrong. As long as you are enrolled in the self-and-family option of your plan, both of you are covered.

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