The following is a question submitted by a Federal Times reader 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 widowed CSRS retiree who will be 65 in late 2023. At that time I will enroll in Medicare. I have a 22 year old son who is in college and plans to attend graduate school, and possibly post graduate school. I’m currently enrolled in a self plus one in the Federal Employee Health Benefits program.
I am unsure about what would be the best route to take to ensure that both myself and my son have adequate medical coverage after I turn 65, and until he ages out of FEHB at 26. Any suggestions?
Reg’s Response: Most retirees stay with the FEHB plan they were enrolled in when they become eligible for Medicare. That’s because the combination of the two substantially reduces their out-of-pocket costs for health care.
Some opt for a lower cost FEHB plan or option, feeling that it will meet most of their needs. And an even smaller percentage elect to enroll in Medicare Part B because they feel that the cost isn’t worth the few extra benefits they’ll receive.
Because you want your son to be adequately covered by health insurance while he’s still under your enrollment, you need to consider which FEHB plan or option would best protect him and also protect you financially if any unexpected health emergency arises.
If you do decide to change plans or options, you can do that during any Open Season. However, under Qualified Life Event 2L you have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make that change at any time beginning on the 30th day before becoming eligible for Medicare.
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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.