The following is a question submitted by a Federal Times readers about retirement and other issues facing the federal workforce. It is answered by Reg Jones, a charter member of the senior executive service and a Federal Times columnist since 1995.

Question: I am a retired federal employee and also retired military so eligible for Tricare for Life.  While in federal service I had BCBS Federal. I retired in 2020 and turned 65 in 2021.  I enrolled in Medicare A and B in 2021 and suspended (not cancelled) BCBS Federal. 

My Medicare Part B premiums are tied to Adjusted Gross Income so that my premiums are significantly higher than had I remained with BCBS.  However, Tricare for Life as secondary provider requires Medicare A and B.  BCBS, it appears, is insufficient as primary provider.  Is this correct?

Reg’s Response: I’ve been told that the combination of Tricare for Life and Medicare A and B provides comprehensive health benefits coverage. However, since I’m only qualified to answer questions about civilian benefits, I don’t know if being enrolled in BCBS and Medicare A and B would differ in its coverage. Clearly enrollment in only BCBS and Medicare Part A, which costs you nothing as a retiree, would provide lesser benefits than either of the two more comprehensive enrollments. You’ll have to compare the coverage provided by Tricare and BCBS to see if there are any important differences between them. Then decide if the cost difference is worth it.

Got a question for the Federal Times expert?

Send inquiries to: fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

Reg Jones is the resident expert on retirement and the federal government at Federal Times. From 1979 until 1995, he served as an assistant director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management handling recruiting and examining, white and blue collar pay, retirement, insurance and other issues. Opinions expressed are his own.

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