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 currently serving as a Dept. Of the Army Civilian overseas. As a Federal employee I am covered under the FEHB plan with Blue Cross & Blue Shield Plan 104.

I plan on retiring in the near future and at this time I have elected to remain overseas in order to continue to explore and end enjoy this experience.

My concern is the following: Can I continue to maintain BC & BS coverage?

Will BC & BS continue to honor health charges incurred with “bob-participating” health care providers and institutions? (Note: there are no such affiliated caregivers and facilities in Italy).

Lastly, (I beg your indulgence), it has been suggested that I do not enroll in Medicare part B as it is costly and ineffective overseas. Your opinion?

Reg’s Response: Yes, with rare exception you can continue your BC/BS coverage while overseas. (The exception involves certain blocked countries, such as North Korea). What exactly will be covered and to what extent is something you’ll have to take up with your plan. In some cases the bill may be covered in whole or part. In others, you may have to pay the bill and then submit your claim to BC/BS.

While enrolling in Medicare Part B might be of no benefit to you while overseas, if you don’t enroll when you are first eligible for that coverage, the cost of your monthly premiums will increase with every year you could have been covered but weren’t.

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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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