By Reg Jones
Q. My wife is 65 and is retiring under FERS from federal service at age 66 (in one month). I resigned under FERS two years and three months ago while not old enough for Medicare but was self-employed for the past two years, now employed by a nongovernment contractor.
I had Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage separate from my wife’s FEHB coverage while employed in federal government service. My wife had her own coverage until I quit federal employment, then she started FEHB family coverage to cover both of us. She had Medicare coverage simultaneously for part of the last year because she was required to apply for Medicare benefits at age 65 and she was not sure of how to keep my coverage so we doubled up temporarily.
In a retirement seminar, my wife was told to stay with her FEHB plan when retiring because of better coverage for her extensive medical needs than a Medicare plan would give. Will I be covered as a spouse under her plan while my wife is retiring and be covered into her retirement without being dropped? I have had continual FEHB coverage for over 20 years, including the past two years in the family plan and the previous 20 in a single plan.
A. All your wife has to do to continue your coverage under the FEHB program is to stay enrolled in the self-and-family option of her plan. Both of you are entitled to premium-free coverage under Medicare Part A because you paid for it through payroll deductions. Whether you elect to be covered under Part B is a personal choice, one where you’d have to weigh the costs and benefits. Whether you do or don’t elect Part B won’t affect your right to be covered under the FEHB program.