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I am a retired Federal employee with FEHBP. Do I need to enroll in Part B?

I am a retired Federal employee with health insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) and am eligible for Medicare. Do I need to enroll in Medicare Part B?

Federal retirees are entitled to Medicare under the same rules as all other retirees. You are first eligible to enroll in Part B during your initial enrollment period which begins 3 months before you turn age 65 and ends three months after you turn age 65. If you do not enroll in Part B during your initial enrollment period, you may only enroll during the General Enrollment Period that occurs January 1 through March 31 of each year. Part B coverage is effective July 1, of the year of enrollment. You may have to pay higher Part B premiums because you did not enroll when you were first eligible. The Social Security Administration handles Medicare eligibility and enrollment. To sign up for Medicare or to add Medicare Part B, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. You don't have to take Part B coverage if you don't want it, and your FEHB plan can't require you to take it. There are some advantages to enrolling in Part B:

  • You must be enrolled in Parts A and B to join a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • You have the advantage of coordination of benefits between Medicare and your FEHB plan, reducing your out-of-pocket costs.
  • Your FEHB plan may waive its copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles for Part B services.
  • Some services covered under Part B might not be covered or only partially covered by your plan, such as orthopedic and prosthetic devices, durable medical equipment, home health care, and medical supplies (check your FEHB plan brochure for details).
  • If you are enrolled in an FEHB HMO, you may go outside of the plan's network for Part B services and receive reimbursement by Medicare (only when Medicare is the primary payer).

In addition, it is important to keep in mind that the FEHBP plan contracts are renewed yearly. What applies today may not apply during the next year. Plans may change coverage, cost, or benefits. They can also terminate their contract with the Office of Personnel Management. You should take this into consideration when deciding whether to enroll in Part B. The Office of Personnel Management provides useful information to retiring Federal employees on their website. For information about how to enroll in Medicare see: How do I enroll in Medicare? and I want to add Part B to my Medicare. When can I do that? To add Medicare Part B, you should contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.

Eligibility and Enrollment