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Old 09-06-2015, 12:03 PM   #1
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Medicare & Federal Retiree

The time has come for me to make a decision....and I waited until the last minute. I just realized this is to be done 3 months before you turn 65. So far the only thing I have decided is not to do Medicare Advantage.... I've got so much reading to do and feel overwhelmed. Did Medicare seem complicated to you, or will I find it easy once I actually begin reading......

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Old 09-06-2015, 12:13 PM   #2
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The time has come for me to make a decision....and I waited until the last minute. I just realized this is to be done 3 months before you turn 65. So far the only thing I have decided is not to do Medicare Advantage.... I've got so much reading to do and feel overwhelmed. Did Medicare seem complicated to you, or will I find it easy once I actually begin reading......

Attachment 22253

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It's all pretty straight forward, but I would recommend buying the absolute best Medicare Supplement Plan you can (NOT Medicare Advantage, which you apparently know about). We have full Plan F and it covers just about everything Medicare doesn't.

Read up on the ability to switch Medicare Supplement Plans after joining and understand the difficulties you may encounter. There are some very helpful threads on the Bogleheads site on this topic.
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Old 09-06-2015, 12:32 PM   #3
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Thanks aja888, Are you a federal retiree that kept FEHB? I'll have to read up on Plan F....and I do read the Boglehead forum, so I'll check there also.
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Old 09-06-2015, 01:50 PM   #4
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Thanks aja888, Are you a federal retiree that kept FEHB? I'll have to read up on Plan F....and I do read the Boglehead forum, so I'll check there also.
No Cassie, I'm out of private industry and have no Fed employment history. I can't strees enough about being knowledgeable on the process of selecting/keeping Medicare Supplemental plans.
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Old 09-06-2015, 02:20 PM   #5
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It's all pretty straight forward, but I would recommend buying the absolute best Medicare Supplement Plan you can (NOT Medicare Advantage, which you apparently know about). We have full Plan F and it covers just about everything Medicare doesn't.

Read up on the ability to switch Medicare Supplement Plans after joining and understand the difficulties you may encounter. There are some very helpful threads on the Bogleheads site on this topic.
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No Cassie, I'm out of private industry and have no Fed employment history. I can't strees enough about being knowledgeable on the process of selecting/keeping Medicare Supplemental plans.
FEHB becomes the Medicare Supplement and Part D drug plan.
MEDICARE, Part A, B, C and D | Do Federal Retirees Need to Sign up for Medicare?
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When you sign up for Medicare and are retired, your FEHB insurance becomes your supplemental coverage and Medicare is your primary health care and they pay first.
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Old 09-06-2015, 02:33 PM   #6
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Thanks SC for the link, it will be helpful. I'm still learning the terminology, and glad to see FEHB will be my supplemental. I'm thinking "supplemental" and "medi-gap" are the same.?

For non Feds FEHB is Federal Employees Health Benefits

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Old 09-06-2015, 02:37 PM   #7
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I am a CSRS retiree. I just kept the BCBS policy I had before retirement and it became my supplement for Medicare.
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Old 09-06-2015, 02:54 PM   #8
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Nodak, I too am CSRS and have BCBS which I want to keep. Thanks. Did you have to notify BCBS or was it automatic once you enrolled in Medicare.

I still have a lot of reading to do, however so far I've decided on Original Medicare (A & B) and keep my FEHB as the supplement which will also cover prescriptions.
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Old 09-06-2015, 06:35 PM   #9
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I've only taken Part A, since my FEHB seems to cover everything else....
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Old 09-06-2015, 09:56 PM   #10
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Cassie, I kept my FEHB (BCBS Standard) and also pay for Part B Medicare. So, I have parts A&B like you are thinking of doing. BCBS told me not to get Part D because their prescription coverage is better.

Also, BCBS informed me that Medicare is primary and BCBS is secondary. That makes sense because BCBS doesn't want to pay for anything that would already be paid for by Medicare.

FEHB(BCBS) has picked up every cent that Medicare didn't, so far, except the prescriptions cost the same. No other expenses like co-pays or deductible, though. I am very happy with this set-up and haven't had any problems at all.

You do have to notify BCBS. I just called the number on the back of my BCBS card and that was pretty easy to do.

I signed up for Medicare online so that was pretty easy.
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:03 AM   #11
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Cassie - the tough decision is whether to pay for Part B or just go with Part A and the FEHB. I did the later but continue to second guess myself. There is a lot of discussion about this topic at Fedsoup (A forum for federal employees and retirees). Unfortunately, recommendations end up about 50/50 each way. About ten years ago I attended a lecture by the guy here in DC who publishes the annual Consumer Checkbook analysis of Federal health plans. He persuasively argued that Part B was a cost looser for most retirees and that even for those few whose expense pattern ultimately makes Part B the better deal, the difference is not large so the better bet is to skip it. I am in an income bracket that would require me and DW to pay the higher rate for Part B so that helped swing me toward skipping it. I would recommend that you go with what makes you feel comfortable -- for what it is worth, most Fed retirees go with Part A and Part B.
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Old 09-07-2015, 11:31 AM   #12
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Thank you gerryb, W2R and donheff for your comments. I plan on registering online this week, I will call BCBS also. I'm afraid not to get Part B as I'm not clear on the impact....I hope I can find out the cost because if I do get it I'll have to pay that in addition to my BCBS. I hadn't figured in another cost in my retirement budget.


If you don't mind sharing...how much is part B?

Thanks folks.....and thanks for mentioning and linking FedSoup!
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Old 09-07-2015, 03:37 PM   #13
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Nodak, I too am CSRS and have BCBS which I want to keep. Thanks. Did you have to notify BCBS or was it automatic once you enrolled in Medicare.

I still have a lot of reading to do, however so far I've decided on Original Medicare (A & B) and keep my FEHB as the supplement which will also cover prescriptions.
It was automatic. I had assumed the cost of BCBS would go down when it became the supplement but it stayed the same cost. The paperwork essentially says that BCBS will pay whatever Medicare does not pay. I have been retired for more than 8 years and have not seen a single bill for medical service.
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Old 09-07-2015, 04:57 PM   #14
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I'm a state employee and thankfully have a fairly easy Medicare decision. the sate requires that retirees buy Medicare Parts A&B and one of a number of supplemental plans that are delivered by regional health companies. The default is Unicare Comprehensive which covers you anywhere in the world. For me the premiums would be $105 for Part B and $95 for the supplemental plan.
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Old 09-07-2015, 05:25 PM   #15
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Thank you gerryb, W2R and donheff for your comments. I plan on registering online this week, I will call BCBS also. I'm afraid not to get Part B as I'm not clear on the impact....I hope I can find out the cost because if I do get it I'll have to pay that in addition to my BCBS. I hadn't figured in another cost in my retirement budget.

If you don't mind sharing...how much is part B?.
Medicare Part B - Costs
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Medicare & Federal Retiree
Old 09-07-2015, 10:51 PM   #16
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Thanks for sharing nun. Thank you Calico....so much information...this great!
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Old 09-07-2015, 11:23 PM   #17
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I am retired CSRS also and I have Part B and kept my FEHB plan (NALC). If you don't apply by the end of Oct (I think) for Medicare, and, if there is not a change to current law, your premium for 2016 will be over $150 vs the $105 now. That's because of a hold harmless rule that prevents Medicare payments from going up for about 80% of current recipients when there is no SS increase, so all the increase in program costs are dumped on the remaining 20%. Sorry, I know this is confusing, but Google "Step Increase in Medicare Premiums for 2016."

Also, the decision depends on your health, whether you are married, and if your CSRS annuity plus any other income you make will exceed the level where income based premiums kick in. Also, if you are not collecting SS and have your premium deducted from it, you also fall in the new, higher premium for 2016 as folks in that category are not eligible for the hold harmless provision.

It is a very complex decision for retired feds especially CSRS. You have a 7 month window to apply - 3 months prior to turning 65, the months you turn 65 and 3 months after. If you go beyond that, you can end up paying a 10% annual penalty. Whatever you do - DO NOT drop your FEHB - you can never get it back once you retire. You can take Medicare and then drop it in the future. You can even get it back again, but the 10% annual penalty applies. You probably don't collect SS yet ( and as CSRS you may never), but, if you have it, they will automatically enroll you in the month of your 65th birthday unless you tell them not to.

Lots of things to consider. Plus, if you do take Medicare, you can switch to a lower cost FEHB plan with just basic benefits this open season. Best of luck.
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Old 09-08-2015, 07:56 PM   #18
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Beowulf, thanks for the info. I am CSRS and do not collect SS, tomorrow I plan on spending the day reading and going online to see about applying. I do not want to drive into Houston to the SS office.
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Old 09-08-2015, 09:20 PM   #19
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Thanks for sharing nun. Thank you Calico....so much information...this great!
You're welcome! Good luck sorting it all out.
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Old 09-08-2015, 09:43 PM   #20
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I am a Fed retiree. GEHA waves co-pays if you have Medicare Part B, a great deal. No issue with health care providers in-program or not. Last year I suspended my Fed. health insurance to sign up for Kaiser's Medicare Advantage Program which in my enrollment area offers hearing aid and dental coverage.

Next year OPM will be shifting out of a single/family coverage to single, single +1, family coverage. I will re-evaluate my choices then.

I really can't speak highly enough of GEHA for medical insurance.
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