What is the Point of Converting to Medicare?

What is the point of my converting to Medicare from my current BC/BS Standard Option (individual)?

Q: I never got a good answer on this from Fed retirement/Medicare seminars before I retired in 2011. I am about to hit 3+ year deadline for Medicare signup.

My Mom had a survivor annuity by the time she really needed it for Alheimer’s and related expenses in her 90’s. She did fine with Blue Cross/Blue Shield … there were only two problems that ever turned up: a couple of medical providers ignored instructions that she was not on Medicare so their payments were delayed; and one of the assisted living places she wound up in normally used a Medicare-only visiting physical therapy company … they had to find someone else for her, with higher costs.

So, my inclination is to ask, what is the point of my converting to Medicare from my current BC/BS Standard Option (individual)?

A: There is absolutely no point to convert your FEHB to Medicare Part B. What retiring feds consider is whether or not to choose Medicare B to go along with their FEHB. Some retirees find keeping their federal insurance and not electing Medicare B to suit them just fine; others pick up B.

What do Medicare eligible retirees look at?

  1. If they elect Medicare B, they are paying more in premiums;
  2. If they elect Medicare B, most FEHB PPOs and fee for service plans cover all Medicare deductibles and co-pays, while waiving their own;
  3. If they do not elect Medicare B when first eligible, there will be a 10% per year penalty if they choose to elect it at a later date.
  4. They also look at their expected need for medical care in the future.

To help you make your decision, I suggest you read the coordination of benefits section of your FEHB plan brochure, read the publication Medicare and You (available at http://www.medicare.gov).

Agencies can request to have John Grobe, or another of Federal Career Experts' qualified instructors, deliver a retirement or transition seminar to their employees. FCE instructors are not financial advisers and will not sell or recommend financial products to class participants. Agency Benefits Officers can contact John Grobe at johnfgrobe@comcast.net to discuss schedules and costs.

About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a firm that provides pre-retirement training and seminars to a wide variety of federal agencies. FCE’s instructors are all retired federal retirement specialists who educate class participants on the ins and outs of federal retirement and benefits; there is never an attempt to influence participants to invest a certain way, or to purchase any financial products. John and FCE specialize in retirement for special category employees, such as law enforcement officers.