By Reg Jones
Q. My husband is retired Postal Service, with Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Medicare Part A.
I will be 65 in March but only have 37 credits and do not qualify for Social Security or Medicare, according to my SS statement.
I would like to know if I qualify for Part A under my husband’s Medicare benefits and, if so, what will happen to that benefit if he dies before I do? Due to medical issues, I do not plan to work in to get those last three credits.
Q. I am 79 years old. I am an annuitant and presently have the federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan, along with Medicare parts A and B. I want to drop my Part B coverage. Will I lose my federal BC/BS if I drop Part B?
Q. My husband is a federal civil servant and planning to retire in a couple of years. His insurance carrier is the mail handlers benefit plan, enrolled as family plan.
When he retires at age 65½, I understand that Medicaid will take over as his primary health plan. What will happen to the mail handlers benefit plan we’ve been carrying for the past 30 years? Do we have to change it to the supplement B or whatever covers what’s not paid by Medicaid? Or will the mail handlers benefit plan pick up the balance, prescription, etc.?
Q. I am retiring under FERS and continuing health insurance coverage. Why do I need Medicare Part B or D? Doesn’t my health insurance provide these benefits? Why would I want both?
Q. I retired in 2000 with 30 years of federal civil service and am covered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. My wife has survivor benefits both for my annuity and my Social Security. I declined Medicare coverage when we qualified for it. Now we are in our 70s, and I want to know if we can now enroll in Medicare. If so, how is the penalty calculated? I’m under the impression that the accumulated penalty for late enrollment may not be to our benefit to enroll. As it stands now, we pay 20 percent of all our medical expenses, and they have been substantial, with the medical problems that my wife has now.
Q. I am a retired federal employee. I kept my Blue Cross/Blue Shield under the Federal Employees Health Benefits. My husband is retired Army and is covered by Tricare for Life, Medicare and my Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I am also covered under my husband’s Tricare but not Tricare for Life. Do I need to sign up for anything else when I turn 65 in January?
Q. I am a 51-year-old Defense Department employee with 13 years of continuous service under FERS and considering leaving federal service and working in the private sector. Since my minimum retirement age is 56, I am ineligible for the MRA+10 retirement option at this time. If I return to federal service at age 56 or later, is there a minimum duration that I would be required to work before I can retire under MRA+10? I have been continuously enrolled in Federal Employees Health Benefits for the past 13 years and would re-enroll immediately upon returning to federal service. I would also leave my FERS and TSP retirement untouched.
Q. I’m looking to retire within the next year after turning 60. My wife and I are in excellent physical condition with no medical conditions. I’m the only one who works in the federal workforce. Once I turn 65, should I consider enrolling in Medicare or just stay with my Federal Employees Health Benefits (currently with Blue Cross/Blue Shield)?
Q. I am a federal employee under CSRS enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program with self-and-family coverage for myself, my wife and my daughter (under age 26). We have been covered under the FEHB program for more than five years. My wife is also a federal employee under FERS. We also have FEDVIP vision plan coverage.
I may retire next year, which will be three years or so before my wife retires. In view of the fact that as a retiree, my FEHB premiums would no longer be deducted pretax, I am considering canceling my enrollment and having my wife enroll through her federal employment, during the current open season. Then the premiums would continue to be pretax until she retires.
However, I have some concerns about making this change.
1. Would this affect either her or me in terms of the requirement to be in the FEHB program for five years before retirement to continue coverage into retirement?
2. What documentation is required to prove participation as a covered family member?
3. Would I continue to be covered if the FEHB enrollment is through her federal employment (and later retirement) in the event that she passes away before me?
4. Would this change affect our daughter’s coverage under the plan in any way?
5. Would my wife have to provide a survivor annuity benefit for me to continue FEHB coverage if she passed first?
Are there any other considerations that I should be aware of as far as you know?
Q. My husband is a retired federal employee. We both have Medicare as our primary and have Blue Cross/Blue Shield Fed standard plan as our supplemental coverage. If he dies, am I eligible to keep the BCBS Fed as my supplemental?
Q. My wife and I are covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan, but do not have Medicare Part B. She is 77 and I am 83. Consequently, to enroll in Part B now would be cost prohibitive. We are currently enrolled in an HMO, so Part B is not a problem. If we were not in an HMO, how much would we be penalized if we were in a service benefit plan without Part B? For example, if we were in Blue Cross Standard, what additional costs would we incur without Part B?
Q. My girlfriend and I have been living together for a number of years. She is covered by her own insurance at her work, and I am retired and covered under Federal Employees Health Benefits self only. When she retires, she will be uninsured until she is eligible for Medicare. Is there any way for me to enroll in family coverage and have her covered?
Q. I have been a federal employee for five years as a registered nurse. I am not enrolled in Federal Employees Health Benefits. I am covered under my spouse’s medical/dental health plan because it is more affordable. We both want to be covered under FEHB when I retire due to lifetime coverage. I understand I need to be continuously enrolled in FEHB for five years before retiring. Do I need to enroll in dental/vision plan, as well, or just the medical health plan. In addition, can I just choose self only?
Q. I retired from the Postal Service in 2006. I will turn 65 in April. If I understand this correctly, my employer health insurance becomes my secondary insurance and Medicare becomes my primary. Why would my premiums stay the same for an insurance that’s providing me less coverage? Also, what parts (A, B, C, D) are advisable to sign up for with Medicare?
Q. I am a Postal Service employee under FERS. I am covered under a Federal Employees Health Benefits self-only plan. My wife works in the private sector and carries her own self-only coverage. I plan to retire in six years, and I know I need to be insured for five years prior. My wife cannot carry her insurance into her retirement. Do I need to carry her on my policy for five years before I retire or can I add her nearer to my retirement date?
Q. We have Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage. My husband hopes to retire within five years, and we are thinking of adding dental coverage during this open season. He understands that any change in coverage will jeopardize our carrying health coverage into retirement. Please explain how changes in coverage affect coverage in retirement.
Q. My husband recently retired under FERS. He has the Federal Employees Health Benefits family plan. I am still working and will be for at least another 10 years under FERS. If I pick up the FEHB in open season, will he be able to switch back to FEHB once the kids reach 26 and are off our health plan, so both of us could pick up single coverage (if it’s cost advantageous at that time)? Will the switch in primary recipient be considered a cancellation on his part so that he can’t re-enroll in the future, or will my husband be able to pick up self-only when the time comes?
Q. My husband and I are employed with different federal agencies. He is with the Veterans Affairs Department, and I am with the Defense Department. He has covered me under a family plan for the past 10 years. We are both preparing for retirement next year. Our daughter turned 27 this year and is no longer eligible for coverage under the family plan. So it is cheaper for each of us to elect our own self insurance plans, rather than for him to continue the family plan. If I elect a self plan this open season, and then retire next year, how will the Office of Personnel Management know that I have been covered under Federal Employees Health Benefits for the required five years? I don’t want to be stuck without coverage eligibility after I retire.
Q. I retired in 2006 from the Small Business Administration and have always had the Blue Cross/Blue Shield family plan. I carried this family plan into retirement.
My wife is also a federal employee and plans to retire in 2014. She is covered under my plan — that is, she never had an individual plan of her own.
I noticed that there is a $60-per-month difference between the family plan and two individual plans. Since my wife has been covered under my plan for more than five years, can she sign up for an individual plan during this open season and carry it into her retirement? (I would switch from a family plan to my own individual plan.)
Q. I retired from the Postal Service at age 70. I did not sign up for Medicare Part B at 65. I carried my Federal Employees Health Benefits plan into retirement. I understood that as long as I kept my insurance, I would not be penalized if I decided to sign up at a later time. That was two years ago. I am considering an Advantage plan and have been told by Social Security that I will be penalized for each 12-month period since I turned 65, even though I continued to work until 70. I retired Oct. 1, 2011.