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Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:06 pm
by TSPBuilder
I'm coming up on 65 and have to sign up for medicare shortly and looking for any advice the group might have. From what I have learned it seems federal workers can keep the BCBS coverage in addition to medicare. I am also getting insurance company mail literature everyday it seems to cover expenses medicare doesn't. Any advice or insight as to what most federal workers choose?

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:51 pm
by Midway
Did you see this topic?
viewtopic.php?f=21&t=18137
Since you are with BCBS check this out too:
https://www.fepblue.org/en/benefit-plan ... nt-account

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 4:46 am
by TSPBuilder
Thanks Midway! I had not seen the article and it had a lot of really great information.

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 11:22 am
by katcat
If you have not retired and are covered by your employer's group health insurance, you do not have to sign up for medicare.
https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insuranc ... dicare.pdf

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 12:36 pm
by bop
As pointed out in the link provided by katcat. If you are entitled to Part A without paying the premiums, you should take it, even if you are still working. (And most 65-year-old federal employees are eligible.)

If you are still working, it's probably not worth considering Medicare Part B, since BCBS will pay claims first and generally pays more than Medicare, so Medicare won't pay anything as secondary.

Once you retire, you have up to 8 months to enroll in Medicare Part B without incurring any penalties and that gives you plenty of time to evaluate your options. I elected to start Medicare Part B after retirement and keep my BCBS Standard policy because I want the best coverage I can get. In this scenario, Medicare will pay their portion of claims first and then submit to BCBS as secondary. BCBS will pay the remainder of any claims, even including claims applied to the Medicare deductible.

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 3:11 pm
by TSPBuilder
bop wrote: Fri Mar 12, 2021 12:36 pm As pointed out in the link provided by katcat. If you are entitled to Part A without paying the premiums, you should take it, even if you are still working. (And most 65-year-old federal employees are eligible.)

If you are still working, it's probably not worth considering Medicare Part B, since BCBS will pay claims first and generally pays more than Medicare, so Medicare won't pay anything as secondary.

Once you retire, you have up to 8 months to enroll in Medicare Part B without incurring any penalties and that gives you plenty of time to evaluate your options. I elected to start Medicare Part B after retirement and keep my BCBS Standard policy because I want the best coverage I can get. In this scenario, Medicare will pay their portion of claims first and then submit to BCBS as secondary. BCBS will pay the remainder of any claims, even including claims applied to the Medicare deductible.
bop,
Thank you for the additional information. It is very pertinent since I did not know I had eight months to elect for Medicare Part B so apparently I will have penalties if and when I choose to elect it. Is there a cost for Medicare part A and B? Do I have to elect to have it at some point because Blue Cross Blue Shield goes away? Forgive my laziness for not looking this up somewhere and figuring it out but I am a lazy researcher and retirement has not made me any better at it :-)

Any effort to assist with these questions is enormously appreciated.

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 8:35 pm
by Scarfinger
I believe there is a 10% penalty per year you delay signing up after being eligible.

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 1:08 am
by bop
Since you are just approaching 65, I don't think you have incurred any penalties yet. A good starting place for official information is: https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change ... up-periods

Here are some thoughts to consider as you start your research:

If you are going to enroll in Medicare and want to do so without incurring late enrollment penalties, the right time to do so depends on whether you are covered by an eligible employer group health plan provided by you or your spouse's employer. (See information at the link above on the rules of eligibility.)

When to enroll:
If you are not covered by such an eligible employer group health plan, you must sign up during what Medicare calls your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) to avoid late enrollment penalties. Your IEP starts three months before your birth month and ends three months after your birth month.

If you are covered by an eligible employer group health plan (yours or your spouse's employer), you are eligible to delay and enroll any time during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) that ends 8 months after you lose your employer group health plan coverage.

If you fail to enroll during your IEP or SEP, you may enroll later during the General Enrollment Period which starts on January 1 and ends March 31 of each year. A late enrollment penalty of 10% for each 12 months of missing coverage may be added to your future premiums.

How to enroll:
You will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B if you have been drawing SS or RRB retirement benefits for at least 4 months; and if so, you should receive your Medicare Card about three months before your birth month. If you are still working and don't want to start Part B yet, just follow the instructions on the back of that card to return it and decline Part B; but keep part A, since it's free to you (if you worked and paid Medicare tax for at least 10 years.)

If you are not eligible for automatic enrollment by SSA or RRB, you should apply online using information found at: https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/. Again, make sure you sign up for Part A during your IEP if you are not automatically enrolled, even if you don't want Part B.

Hope this helps get you started.

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 11:48 am
by Redgrange1
Regarding Medicare part B and the current postal bill in congress that deals with eliminating the prefunding for retiree health care. In the bill it requires anniutants to enroll in Medicare part B. My question is- does it grandfather you in without penalty if you are 65 and over. I turned 65 on Jan 20 and have until April 20 to enroll in Part B w/o penalty, but I want to wait if possible to change my FEHBP insurance to low option during open season.

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 6:05 pm
by bop
Looks like current postal service annuitants would not be required to enroll in Part B, but will be given a three month grace period to enroll without penalty if they elect to do so.

Source: https://federalnewsnetwork.com/agency-o ... standards/

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Fri May 14, 2021 10:12 am
by md2018
I’m not sure what the consensus on the topic is but looking for any advice from those with FEHB and Medicare. I have GEHA + 1 for me and my spouse. She is coming up on 65 and has to choose if she wants Part B. Since I am not 65 I have to keep GEHA. However I don’t see much benefit in Part B. I talked to GEHA and they will wave the $350 deductible (but Medicare has a $200 deductible) and they waive the 15% coinsurance. So there is some financial benefit. Part B is an extra $148 per month. My spouse is one of those types who never visits the doctor and rarely gets sick unless it is an emergency. But then GEHA and Med Part A should cover that. So what do most of you doing if you keep your FEHB?
Do you add in part B or go without it?

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Sat May 15, 2021 1:12 pm
by TSPBuilder
BOP,

Thank you for taking the time to write and share all of this wonderful information!

T
bop wrote: Sat Mar 13, 2021 1:08 am Since you are just approaching 65, I don't think you have incurred any penalties yet. A good starting place for official information is: https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change ... up-periods

Here are some thoughts to consider as you start your research:

If you are going to enroll in Medicare and want to do so without incurring late enrollment penalties, the right time to do so depends on whether you are covered by an eligible employer group health plan provided by you or your spouse's employer. (See information at the link above on the rules of eligibility.)

When to enroll:
If you are not covered by such an eligible employer group health plan, you must sign up during what Medicare calls your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) to avoid late enrollment penalties. Your IEP starts three months before your birth month and ends three months after your birth month.

If you are covered by an eligible employer group health plan (yours or your spouse's employer), you are eligible to delay and enroll any time during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) that ends 8 months after you lose your employer group health plan coverage.

If you fail to enroll during your IEP or SEP, you may enroll later during the General Enrollment Period which starts on January 1 and ends March 31 of each year. A late enrollment penalty of 10% for each 12 months of missing coverage may be added to your future premiums.

How to enroll:
You will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B if you have been drawing SS or RRB retirement benefits for at least 4 months; and if so, you should receive your Medicare Card about three months before your birth month. If you are still working and don't want to start Part B yet, just follow the instructions on the back of that card to return it and decline Part B; but keep part A, since it's free to you (if you worked and paid Medicare tax for at least 10 years.)

If you are not eligible for automatic enrollment by SSA or RRB, you should apply online using information found at: https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/. Again, make sure you sign up for Part A during your IEP if you are not automatically enrolled, even if you don't want Part B.

Hope this helps get you started.

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 4:11 pm
by evilanne
md2018 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 10:12 am I’m not sure what the consensus on the topic is but looking for any advice from those with FEHB and Medicare. I have GEHA + 1 for me and my spouse. She is coming up on 65 and has to choose if she wants Part B. Since I am not 65 I have to keep GEHA. However I don’t see much benefit in Part B. I talked to GEHA and they will wave the $350 deductible (but Medicare has a $200 deductible) and they waive the 15% coinsurance. So there is some financial benefit. Part B is an extra $148 per month. My spouse is one of those types who never visits the doctor and rarely gets sick unless it is an emergency. But then GEHA and Med Part A should cover that. So what do most of you doing if you keep your FEHB?
Do you add in part B or go without it?
Not sure if you made a decision yet or not. but this may be helpful https://www.myfederalretirement.com/fed ... edicare-b/'

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Sun Sep 19, 2021 8:35 pm
by md2018
evilanne wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 4:11 pm
md2018 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 10:12 am I’m not sure what the consensus on the topic is but looking for any advice from those with FEHB and Medicare. I have GEHA + 1 for me and my spouse. She is coming up on 65 and has to choose if she wants Part B. Since I am not 65 I have to keep GEHA. However I don’t see much benefit in Part B. I talked to GEHA and they will wave the $350 deductible (but Medicare has a $200 deductible) and they waive the 15% coinsurance. So there is some financial benefit. Part B is an extra $148 per month. My spouse is one of those types who never visits the doctor and rarely gets sick unless it is an emergency. But then GEHA and Med Part A should cover that. So what do most of you doing if you keep your FEHB?
Do you add in part B or go without it?
Not sure if you made a decision yet or not. but this may be helpful https://www.myfederalretirement.com/fed ... edicare-b/'
Thanks, I read that article. Still a bit of gamble either way. It sounds like for most people it never pays to take FEHB + Part B but does give you a degree of peace of mind to have double insurance coverage. Some United, Aetna, and Kaiser plans seems to be the best FEHB plans to combine with Part B from a financial perspective.

Each person has to also look into the future and and try and decide if they are high risk for expensive health care (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc). For now my wife did not take Part B. I will have a couple of years to evaluate that decision for when I have to decide for myself.

Re: Coming up on Medicare... what to do

Posted: Tue Sep 21, 2021 12:55 pm
by bop
If you are covered by Blue Cross, they have a new tool on their website that can help you make this decision.
It's called the HealthCare Cost Advisor and the self-guided tool will show you a nice breakdown of your actual costs for the last two years.

My wife and I have been in reasonably good health. (I took ZERO sick days in my 30-year career.) But that can change at any time, and usually not for the better.

In our case, we had out-of-pocket expenses that exceeded the cost of Medicare Part B premiums for each of the two years leading up to the time we needed to make a decision on Medicare. In one of those years, the out-of-pocket costs were about four times the annual cost of Medicare Part B.

We've had a similar number of medical services since starting Medicare and I have to say there is a great amount of comfort in having zero out-of-pocket costs. No bills, no co-pays... just statements showing we are not responsible for any part of the cost. (Except for routine prescriptions, which are covered with a relatively small co-pay by BCBS.)

For us, it was a no-brainer to take Part B. Your mileage may vary.