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Do I need to enroll in Part B if I am a retired Federal employee with FEHBP?

Retired Federal employees are entitled to Medicare under the same rules as all other retirees. You are first eligible to enroll in Part B during your initial enrollment, period which begins three months before you turn age 65 and ends three months after you turn age 65. If you do not enroll in Part B during your initial enrollment period, you may only enroll during the General Enrollment Period which is from January 1 through March 31 of each year. Part B coverage is effective July 1, of the year of enrollment. You may have to pay higher Part B premiums because you did not enroll when you were first eligible. The Social Security Administration handles Medicare eligibility and enrollment. To sign up for Medicare or to add Medicare Part B, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.

You don't have to take Part B coverage if you don't want it, and your FEHB plan can't require you to take it. However, there are some advantages to enrolling in Part B. You have the advantage of coordination of benefits between Medicare and your FEHB plan, reducing your out-of-pocket costs. You must be enrolled in Parts A and B to join a Medicare Advantage plan. Your FEHB plan may waive its copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles for Part B services. Some services covered under Part B might not be covered or only partially covered by your plan. This includes orthopedic and prosthetic devices, durable medical equipment, home health care, and medical supplies. Check your FEHB plan brochure for details.

If you are enrolled in an FEHB HMO and Medicare is the primary payer, you may go outside of the plan's network for Part B services and receive reimbursement by Medicare. In addition, it is important to remember that the FEHBP plan contracts are renewed yearly, so your current plan’s coverage, cost, or benefits may change next year. FEHBP can also terminate their contract with the Office of Personnel Management. You should take this into consideration when deciding whether to enroll in Part B. The Office of Personnel Management provides useful information to retiring Federal employees on their website: To add Medicare Part B, you should contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.

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