Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Managing your TSP and alternate investment options after retirement or separation from service.

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Aitrus
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Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by Aitrus »

I've got a question regarding the insurance side of things. I'm hoping that somebody more knowledgeable than I can help me clarify some things. First, my situation:

- '98 - '07: Active Duty Air Force. Separated in 2007 and joined the Air National Guard and the Civil Service.

- '07 - '18: worked for civil service and Air National Guard, so I was eligible for FEHB but ineligible for Tricare Reserve. Retired from ANG in 2018. I did not take Tricare Retired Reserve at that time.

- '18 - present: Still working for civil service, projecting a retirement close to my MRA in 2037 - 38, depending on how my TSP does. I'll be 57 or 58 at that time. My ANG retirement kicks in at age 60 in 2040.

Here's my quandry: should I keep FEHB when I retire from civil service at my MRA, or should I drop FEHB and pick up Tricare Retired Reserve (and therefore have to switch to Tricare for Life and apply for Medicare part B at age 65)? I'm in pretty good health overall, and a number of my family members have lived well into their 80s or 90s. My wife is my age and is in roughly the same as me health-wise.

I guess I'm just not sure which system is better / more reliable / more cost effective. Under FEHB I'm enrolled in Blue Cross / Blue Shield. I only ever used Tricare when I was on active duty from '98 - '07 and was only ever seen at the base clinics and hospitals, so I'm not really familiar with how easy Tricare is to work with, the network availability, customer service, etc. I'm currently awaiting on my VA disability claim to finalize through (it's taking longer than normal due to COVID), so I don't yet know what will be covered by VA and what won't, but there are some issues that might potentially flare up down the line that VA might not cover.

Thanks in advance.
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scotth2010
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by scotth2010 »

In 2040, hahaha, you will not have a choice. By then we will not be able to carry insurance into retirement, because its not fair no else does any more. At sixty your Tricare kicks in. If you like BCBS, you will hate Tricare. At 65 mandatory that Medicare is your primary and either BCBS/Tri is secondary. Tri is free vs BCBS @ ~350/month.

jdeacon
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by jdeacon »

Airtrus,

First look at my response to Vjoe571. What I did not tell him was that I also have Tricare for life as my tertiary health insurance after medicare and BC/BS. I decided I would rather be over insured rather than under insured. Aside from my medicare part b and BC/BC premium, I have paid nothing for co-pays except for pharmacy. I also had a major surgery (total hip replacement) where the bill came to ~$90K for which I also had no co-pays. If affordable for you, I would keep FEHB and Tricare Retired Reserve. At 65 I would enroll in Medicare part B as your primary, but still keep BC/BS as your secondary, with Tricare for Life as your teriary, especially if you plan to travel outside the US.

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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by Aitrus »

good points, scotth. I didn't know about the switch to Medicare as primary at 65. Thanks.

Awesome answer, jdeacon. Much appreciated.

Gives me some good food for thought about what I might want to keep in mind for the future.
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jimcasada
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by jimcasada »

I have the basic APWU United Healthcare family plan that costs me 163.51/pay period or about $4250/year. It includes a $2400 Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) that pays me back every time I file a claim against the amount Tricare bills UHC, so my employer plan actually ends up costing me about $1850/year, but I never have to worry about Tricare co-pays or anything more than the approx $600 Tricare annual deductible. 4 years ago, I fell off a ladder and ended up being flown out on a med-evac chopper to a non-military Emergency Trauma Center totaling about $24k in charges, but I never had to pay a dime because I had double coverage (actually triple, if you count VA). It doesn't hurt to have too much insurance, especially if you like to travel and may not be near a military medical center. Another advantage is that $4250 I pay comes off my AGI come tax time.

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bloobs
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by bloobs »

jimcasada wrote:I have the basic APWU United Healthcare family plan that costs me 163.51/pay period or about $4250/year. It includes a $2400 Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) that pays me back every time I file a claim against the amount Tricare bills UHC, so my employer plan actually ends up costing me about $1850/year, but I never have to worry about Tricare co-pays or anything more than the approx $600 Tricare annual deductible. 4 years ago, I fell off a ladder and ended up being flown out on a med-evac chopper to a non-military Emergency Trauma Center totaling about $24k in charges, but I never had to pay a dime because I had double coverage (actually triple, if you count VA). It doesn't hurt to have too much insurance, especially if you like to travel and may not be near a military medical center. Another advantage is that $4250 I pay comes off my AGI come tax time.
:shock: man, you are one lucky sumb1tch in more ways than one :shock:

Stuman
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by Stuman »

Just to let you know the path I have taken as a 61 yr old retired naval reservist. Up until age 60, I carried FEHB (BCBS & SAMBA). I also filed a claim with the VA early on at the 10 yr point in my reserve tenure and received a 30% disability rating. 8 yrs ago, I had total knee replacement and filed a VA claim (service connected) for that which yielded full VA disability for 12 months, then adjusted down to 40%, which I currently receive to this day. I have been getting my prescriptions filled via the VA through their mail order program, for a reasonable count, but when I turned 60, I have not had to pay a dime for my prescriptions. Also, since age 60, I switched from FEHB to Tricare and have saved the cost of FEHB premiums (about 350 per month) depending on which health plan you go with. I also continue to maintain a flexible spending account which more than makes up for medical expenses and copays encountered throughout the year. So, there are advantages to giving up FEHB once you turn 60 in favor of Tricare and VA healthcare. This is just my experience, others may have other ideas and factors that would affect their selection for healthcare. Hope this helps.

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jimcasada
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by jimcasada »

Stuman,

I also retired via Navy Reserve with 26 qualifying years, including 3 years active (GM1). Forget BCBS & SAMBA. My APWU United Healthcare plan actually is costing me about $154/month after collecting back reimbursements from their HRA Account. And, if you figure in Tricare co-pays and the money I save on my income tax, it's really not costing me hardly anything to keep my FEHB going. One thing to keep in mind is that you will lose the option to keep your FEHB going after you retire, unless opt back in before your last year when you retire from Federal service. You also need to get your VA rating up to at least 50% ASAP or the government is going to take away a big chunk of you Navy retirement check, but I'm guessing you probably already know that.

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evilanne
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by evilanne »

I agree that it is better to be over insured. I have read somewhere that you can pause or put FEHB on hold for a period of time. I don't know the details but you may want to look into this when you get ready to retire--I think the point is that you want to carry it into retirement to maintain your options. You will need FEHB for you and your wife before you turn 60 or 65 when you are eligible for either Tricare. If something happens to you, your wife will appreciate the FEHB coverage. Before 60/65 FEHB will be primary and Tricare is secondary. At 65 Medicare is primary, followed by FEHB and then Tricare.

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Aitrus
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by Aitrus »

Thanks for all the responses and PMs, guys. My wife and I have been talking it over, and you are all bringing up some good points. I think that we'll be leaning toward being overinsured - better to have it and not need it than the other way around. We'll probably stick with FEHB, then pick up Tricare when I retire and pick up Medicare when the time comes.
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Midway
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by Midway »

Aitrus, not sure if you saw this thread or if it will influence your decision making.
viewtopic.php?f=21&t=18137

Also, does anyone know if other FEHB plans have a similar rebate program?

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Aitrus
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by Aitrus »

Actually, as I recall it was that thread - along with a few others - that got me thinking and prompted me to ask the questions above. But thanks for making the suggestion.
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"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters" Epictetus

Scorpio70
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by Scorpio70 »

I agree about having more coverage as you age. I am under the VA, BCBS, and Medicare Part A and B. I have the reimbursement for BCBS because Medicare is primary now. My costs are over $200K a year to stay alive so one never knows. 2020 was a great year for me that I did not stay overnight in a hospital for the first time in years. As you age, and cost cutting occurs, it is better to have more than try to save a few bucks.

amybelieve
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by amybelieve »

Never just cancel your FEHB, place it on hold and you always have the option to return to it.

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bloobs
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Re: Question regarding FEHB / Tricare

Post by bloobs »

amybelieve wrote: Wed Feb 10, 2021 11:51 am Never just cancel your FEHB, place it on hold and you always have the option to return to it.
You can put your FEHB on hold, post-retirement? For how long? Part of my retirement plans is to live overseas for months/years (where FEHB or medicare doesnt work) but i do want to restart my FEHB after returning home.
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