“I am confused about Medicare Part B and the FEHB I am currently enrolled in. Upon retirement, would I need to enroll in Part B Medicare if I continue with my Blue Cross Blue Shield plan? I recently enrolled in Medicare Part A because there is no cost to join. My question pertains as to how I am to approach Medicare Part B.”
The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association has pointed out that most federal retirees don’t need to enroll in Medicare Part B if they are enrolled in an FEHB plan. However, they also note that the decision needs to be made on your current physical condition and your anticipated needs.
Before you make a decision, you need to understand what Part B covers. In short, it covers such things as:
Medical Expenses, such as doctor’s services, outpatient medical and surgical services and supplies, physical and speech therapy, and diagnostic tests.
Clinical Laboratory Services, such as blood tests and urinalysis.
Home Health Care, including medically skilled care, home health care services, medical supplies, etc.
Outpatient Hospital Services, including reasonable and necessary services for the diagnosis and treatment pf an illness or injury.
Blood, unlimited if medically necessary.
Before deciding whether to enroll in Part B, you’ll need to consider both your current needs and those you can already anticipate. Add into that analysis your family history. Finally, you should consider your tolerance for uncertainty: Would it be better to know that nearly all of your health benefit needs would be covered by enrolling in Part B or to simply take your chances?
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Reg Jones, a charter member of the senior executive service, 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.