Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

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gkaplan
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Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by gkaplan » Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:03 am

I am a federal employee and will retire at the end of the leave year (01/11/2014). After I retire, I plan to sign up for Medicare B (I already am enrolled in Medicare A.), although I intend to wait the eight month window I am allowed before being penalized for enrolling late. After I enroll in Medicare B, my Medicare B would become my primary insurance, and my FEHB would become my secondary insurance. I got to thinking, though. Why sign up for Medicare B at all? Why not use my FEHB as my sole health insurance, as I now do? I know there must be some flaw in this plan, but I don't know what.
Gordon

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tadamsmar
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by tadamsmar » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:09 am

"Do I Have to Take Part B Coverage?

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. But, there are some advantages to
enrolling in Part B:
• You must be enrolled in Parts A and B to
join a Medicare Advantage Plan.
• You have the advantage of coordination of
benefits (described later) between
Medicare and your FEHB plan, reducing
your out-of-pocket costs.
• Your FEHB plan may waive its
copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles
for services covered by Part B.
• Some services covered by Part B might
not be covered or are only partially
covered by your plan, such as orthopedic
and prosthetic devices, durable medical
equipment, home health care, and medical
supplies (check your plan brochure for
details).
• If you are enrolled in an FEHB HMO, you
may go outside of the HMO network for
Part B services and receive reimbursement
by Medicare (when Medicare is the
primary payer)."

http://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance ... -final.pdf

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tadamsmar
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by tadamsmar » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:10 am

See this thread on the same topic:

viewtopic.php?t=62413

gkaplan
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by gkaplan » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:18 am

Thanks for the comments and the link to the thread, which I don't remember having read, although it would have been of interest to me.

I now plan to enroll in Medicare B within eight months of retiring. I do not plan to sign up for either Medicare C or Medicare D.

Thanks again.
Gordon

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Blues
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by Blues » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:03 am

I've got a few years before I need to decide (age 60) but I'd pretty much convinced myself recently that I would probably pass up Part B if I were making the decision today.
“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu | "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson

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tadamsmar
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by tadamsmar » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:15 am

My wife got Part B and I will probably get it when I am old enough.

But I did not do a cost/benefit analysis of delay it or never getting it.

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tadamsmar
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by tadamsmar » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:16 am

gkaplan wrote:I am a federal employee and will retire at the end of the leave year (01/11/2014). After I retire, I plan to sign up for Medicare B (I already am enrolled in Medicare A.), although I intend to wait the eight month window I am allowed before being penalized for enrolling late. After I enroll in Medicare B, my Medicare B would become my primary insurance, and my FEHB would become my secondary insurance. I got to thinking, though. Why sign up for Medicare B at all? Why not use my FEHB as my sole health insurance, as I now do? I know there must be some flaw in this plan, but I don't know what.


You are already on A because it was free, so FEHB is not your sole health insurance - it's secondary to A.

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TimeRunner
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by TimeRunner » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:22 am

For Feds who are retiring and haven't signed up for ANY medicare, to ask the question slightly differently...are there advantages to not signing up for Medicare AT ALL, and just enrolling in a very good plan such as BCBS Standard? Medicare costs continue to rise faster than inflation, and doctor choices may be limited. Why not skip it? (Acknowledge there are benefits to coordination between both plans, but you are also paying for both plans.)
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gkaplan
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by gkaplan » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:32 am

tadamsmar wrote:
gkaplan wrote:I am a federal employee and will retire at the end of the leave year (01/11/2014). After I retire, I plan to sign up for Medicare B (I already am enrolled in Medicare A.), although I intend to wait the eight month window I am allowed before being penalized for enrolling late. After I enroll in Medicare B, my Medicare B would become my primary insurance, and my FEHB would become my secondary insurance. I got to thinking, though. Why sign up for Medicare B at all? Why not use my FEHB as my sole health insurance, as I now do? I know there must be some flaw in this plan, but I don't know what.


You are already on A because it was free, so FEHB is not your sole health insurance - it's secondary to A.


I know, but I've never had to use A, whereas I will be using B each time I see my doctor.
Gordon

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by MnD » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:56 am

Both Part B and FEHB premiums are significantly subsidized. So while duplication and other unneeded coverage may be present, the excess cost for that would have to exceed the net cost after figuring in the subsidies. In fact they do attempt to coordinate and expand benefits for people carrying both, so FEHB as a retiree is "better" than FEHB as an employee as far as picking up a greater % of costs, assuming you have part B. OPM has stated that Part D is unnecessary if your have Part B and FEHB, saving retirees that cost.

Now if you are paying the high income "penalty" rates on Part B, this might be something to look more closely at, since the subsidy of premiums on the B side is less or perhaps eliminated. You also have a greater capacity with high income to absorb unexpected costs that could arise with FEHB only coverage.

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baw703916
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by baw703916 » Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:08 pm

Doesn't the FEHB essentially act like Medicare Advantage?
Most of my posts assume no behavioral errors.

gkaplan
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by gkaplan » Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:57 pm

baw703916 wrote:Doesn't the FEHB essentially act like Medicare Advantage?


I view it as acting more like Medicare Supplement Insurance.
Gordon

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baw703916
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by baw703916 » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:05 pm

You're right--I need to get the terminology straight. :oops:

Is there any reason that someone with FEHB as secondary would need or want to get Medicare advantage, though? Honestly, I don't know.

Brad
Most of my posts assume no behavioral errors.

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tadamsmar
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by tadamsmar » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:25 pm

baw703916 wrote:You're right--I need to get the terminology straight. :oops:

Is there any reason that someone with FEHB as secondary would need or want to get Medicare advantage, though? Honestly, I don't know.

Brad


I think it's either/or. either FEHB or Medicare Advantage.

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AnimalCrackers
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by AnimalCrackers » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:32 pm

TimeRunner wrote:. . . . and just enrolling in a very good plan such as BCBS Standard?


Please be careful with that analysis. You may want to determine how much you would have to pay under the plan you select if, for example, you have an accident and: 1) need ambulance services from an ambulance service that does not contract with your PPO insurer; 2) you need emergency room physician services from an ER physician group that does not contract with your PPO insurer; 3) the hospital sends its lab work or diagnostic studies to a lab or imaging center that does not contract with your PPO insurer.

My recollection is that those scenarios are pretty commonplace and that some PPO plans (perhaps BCBS still) will only cover a fraction of the bill, leaving you on the hook for the rest. Surprise! (The ambulance part may have changed though.)
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by Jetpack » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:34 pm

tadamsmar wrote:
gkaplan wrote:I am a federal employee and will retire at the end of the leave year (01/11/2014). After I retire, I plan to sign up for Medicare B (I already am enrolled in Medicare A.), although I intend to wait the eight month window I am allowed before being penalized for enrolling late. After I enroll in Medicare B, my Medicare B would become my primary insurance, and my FEHB would become my secondary insurance. I got to thinking, though. Why sign up for Medicare B at all? Why not use my FEHB as my sole health insurance, as I now do? I know there must be some flaw in this plan, but I don't know what.


You are already on A because it was free, so FEHB is not your sole health insurance - it's secondary to A.


Since the OP is still actively employed and receiving insurance through their employer, Medicare is a secondary plan and their FEHB plan is primary. Once the OP is no longer actively employed, Medicare switches to the primary coverage. This is the same for private sector employers also.

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TimeRunner
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by TimeRunner » Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:34 pm

AnimalCrackers wrote:
TimeRunner wrote:. . . . and just enrolling in a very good plan such as BCBS Standard?


Please be careful with that analysis. You may want to determine....


Good points. I'm over six years away from a Medicare decision, and much is unknown going forward as far as Obamacare and how Congress will shape FEHBP's future. Staying tuned!
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Jeanz
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by Jeanz » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:15 pm

We have both Medicare and BCBS Standard through the Federal Employee Program, and, while I haven't done the math, there have been one or two very expensive surgeries between the two of us. I'd do it again in a minute.

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by cleosdad » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:41 am

MnD wrote:Both Part B and FEHB premiums are significantly subsidized. So while duplication and other unneeded coverage may be present, the excess cost for that would have to exceed the net cost after figuring in the subsidies. In fact they do attempt to coordinate and expand benefits for people carrying both, so FEHB as a retiree is "better" than FEHB as an employee as far as picking up a greater % of costs, assuming you have part B. OPM has stated that Part D is unnecessary if your have Part B and FEHB, saving retirees that cost.

Now if you are paying the high income "penalty" rates on Part B, this might be something to look more closely at, since the subsidy of premiums on the B side is less or perhaps eliminated. You also have a greater capacity with high income to absorb unexpected costs that could arise with FEHB only coverage.

These are very good points. I am retired with FEHB and will be 65 next year. We are getting closer to the high income penalty but I don't want to get stuck with the 10% penalty.

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tom0153
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by tom0153 » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:05 pm

My wife was the Federal Employee, and I am the survivor. In order to remain abreast of benefits info, I joined www.NARFE.org where they have good info, but some only available to members.

I believe that there is a rather complete article on this topic available to members.

Some of the info here which appears to rely on OPM I recall seeing in that article.

It may be worthwhile to join.
Best, Tom

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:07 am

tadamsmar wrote:
baw703916 wrote:Is there any reason that someone with FEHB as secondary would need or want to get Medicare advantage, though? Honestly, I don't know.

Brad


I think it's either/or. either FEHB or Medicare Advantage.


I considered a reverse question, i.e., not "why would a Federal retiree need Medicare" but "why someone eligible for Medicare would still use FEHB." The answer appears to be that even with Medicare people need a supplementary insurance. I think Medicare Advantage is a type of such supplementary insurance and thus is unnecessary for those with FEHB.

Victoria
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VictoriaF
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:11 am

Jeanz wrote:We have both Medicare and BCBS Standard through the Federal Employee Program, and, while I haven't done the math, there have been one or two very expensive surgeries between the two of us. I'd do it again in a minute.


Many Federal employees I know use Blue Cross Blue Shield as their FEHB plan. However, after discussing it with another Boglehead, I started using GEHA. I am curious if
1. using BCBS is a matter of habit, or there are good reasons to select it?
2. BCBS may be better for retirees than for employees?

At some point I will do my own research but for now I am taking an easy road of asking those who are already there.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by ndchamp » Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:15 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Jeanz wrote:We have both Medicare and BCBS Standard through the Federal Employee Program, and, while I haven't done the math, there have been one or two very expensive surgeries between the two of us. I'd do it again in a minute.

Many Federal employees I know use Blue Cross Blue Shield as their FEHB plan. However, after discussing it with another Boglehead, I started using GEHA. I am curious if
1. using BCBS is a matter of habit, or there are good reasons to select it?
2. BCBS may be better for retirees than for employees?
At some point I will do my own research but for now I am taking an easy road of asking those who are already there.Victoria


I have Fed BCBS & Medicare.
I would suggest you check with your medical providers (billing staff) to see which insurance offers the best coverage, least re-submits.

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by William Million » Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:15 am

I look at it as an either/or. However, retirees spending a great deal of time abroad are better off in FEHB since Medicare provides no coverage outside the U.S.

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by Sbashore » Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:59 pm

I'm a Federal retiree and have Medicare Part B and FEHB. Having seen my late wife through a series of serious illness and health issues, I hold both with no hesitation. My out of pocket costs were zero when the medical expenses were high six figures. What I was able to do, when I became eligible for Part B was transfer in open season to a less expensive FEHB Plan, since as the secondary payer, they are happy to waive the deductibles and co-pays. I may be paying for overlapping coverage, but I look at it as a way to eliminate health care costs risk in my retirement.
Steve | Semper Fi

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TimeRunner
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by TimeRunner » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:37 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Many Federal employees I know use Blue Cross Blue Shield as their FEHB plan. However, after discussing it with another Boglehead, I started using GEHA. I am curious if
1. using BCBS is a matter of habit, or there are good reasons to select it?
2. BCBS may be better for retirees than for employees?

At some point I will do my own research but for now I am taking an easy road of asking those who are already there.

Victoria


I have GEHA HDHP since 2009 with an HSA that I max out. GEHA pays HSABank account fees and deposits $62.50/month into the account. In return, I manage my HC expenses and try not to hit the $1,500 deductible (single person plan). The plan is really there for catastrophic coverage. The occasional outpatient visit (non-preventative) or drugs are on my dime until the deductible is satisfied, then costs start getting partially covered. The HSA is acting like an additional back-door Roth.

We're waiting to see what my wife's new health coverage is. If it's cut significantly from her current coverage (which seems to be the trend), we'll have to re-evaluate plans and either add her to my current plan or select a new plan. I am NOT yet retired - will retire in Spring, 2016.

I view the HDHP similar to carrying high deductible collision insurance on my car, where I bank the difference between low and high deductible costs. As always, YMMV. :)
One cannot enlighten the unconscious. | Endurance athletes are the Bogleheads of sports. | "I like people - I just don't want to be around 'em." - Russell Gordy

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:43 pm

TimeRunner wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Many Federal employees I know use Blue Cross Blue Shield as their FEHB plan. However, after discussing it with another Boglehead, I started using GEHA. I am curious if
1. using BCBS is a matter of habit, or there are good reasons to select it?
2. BCBS may be better for retirees than for employees?

At some point I will do my own research but for now I am taking an easy road of asking those who are already there.

Victoria


I have GEHA HDHP since 2009 with an HSA that I max out. GEHA pays HSABank account fees and deposits $62.50/month into the account. In return, I manage my HC expenses and try not to hit the $1,500 deductible (single person plan). The plan is really there for catastrophic coverage. The occasional outpatient visit (non-preventative) or drugs are on my dime until the deductible is satisfied, then costs start getting partially covered. The HSA is acting like an additional back-door Roth.

We're waiting to see what my wife's new health coverage is. If it's cut significantly from her current coverage (which seems to be the trend), we'll have to re-evaluate plans and either add her to my current plan or select a new plan. I am NOT yet retired - will retire in Spring, 2016.

I view the HDHP similar to carrying high deductible collision insurance on my car, where I bank the difference between low and high deductible costs. As always, YMMV. :)


I do exactly what you do, i.e., use GEHA with HDHP and pay my bills with other (non-HDHP) money. But I do it as an employee. I am wondering if this should change in retirement.

Victoria
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by mbres60 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:41 pm

My dh is a retired fed. He will be 65 next year. I have always taken interest in threads about whether or not to get part B. We have had Aetna HMO for years. Part B does not coordinate with it meaning we would still be responsible for copays. Part B would be helpful if we were to eventually switch to BCBS. Also would be helpful if something was not covered by the HMO. I never even thought about the fact that we could go into surgery and find out the anesthesiologist didn't accept our insurance or the ER doc (even though the hospital does). Sounds like no fed should go without it although I am sure many do.

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by bsteiner » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:13 pm

For what it's worth, a lawyer in the D.C. suburbs who deals with lots of retired Federal employees said that most of them sign up for Medicare A and B and Blue Cross.

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by Rosebud » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:10 pm

baw703916 wrote:You're right--I need to get the terminology straight. :oops:

Is there any reason that someone with FEHB as secondary would need or want to get Medicare advantage, though? Honestly, I don't know.

Brad


I had Medicare Parts A and B and for several years I used Kaiser FEHB Standard. For 2013, Kaiser implemented a deductible for the Standard coverage as well as some higher co-pays. Kaiser has an FEHB Medicare Advantage Plan, that does require that you belong to Medicare Parts A and B, and the benefits made it worthwhile to change to their FEHB Medicare Advantage Plan.

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by Rosebud » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:19 pm

bsteiner wrote:For what it's worth, a lawyer in the D.C. suburbs who deals with lots of retired Federal employees said that most of them sign up for Medicare A and B and Blue Cross.


My recollection is that if you have FEHB, that you are required to sign up for Medicare Part A when you become eligible, since it is free. I've also read that some of the Blue Cross plans require that you have Medicare A and B if you are eligible for Medicare. I'm in Northern California and when I changed over to the Kaiser FEHB Medicare Advantage Plan, they asked to see my Medicare card because they said that most of the members of the FEHB Plan have Part A, but very few have signed up for Part B. So I think it varies depending on what part of the country you live in and whether or not your insurance company requires it. I could have stayed with the Kaiser Standard FEHB with just Part A, but since I had Part B it ended up being beneficial to sign up for the Kaiser FEHB Medicare Advantage Plan. So far it has worked well. They told me that their contract with OPM allows people to go back to the original FEHB at any time during the year if you decide that you're not happy with the Medicare Advantage; although I think there are specific dates to get back into the original Medicare.

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by Sbashore » Tue Sep 17, 2013 9:38 am

VictoriaF wrote:
TimeRunner wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Many Federal employees I know use Blue Cross Blue Shield as their FEHB plan. However, after discussing it with another Boglehead, I started using GEHA. I am curious if
1. using BCBS is a matter of habit, or there are good reasons to select it?
2. BCBS may be better for retirees than for employees?

At some point I will do my own research but for now I am taking an easy road of asking those who are already there.

Victoria


I have GEHA HDHP since 2009 with an HSA that I max out. GEHA pays HSABank account fees and deposits $62.50/month into the account. In return, I manage my HC expenses and try not to hit the $1,500 deductible (single person plan). The plan is really there for catastrophic coverage. The occasional outpatient visit (non-preventative) or drugs are on my dime until the deductible is satisfied, then costs start getting partially covered. The HSA is acting like an additional back-door Roth.

We're waiting to see what my wife's new health coverage is. If it's cut significantly from her current coverage (which seems to be the trend), we'll have to re-evaluate plans and either add her to my current plan or select a new plan. I am NOT yet retired - will retire in Spring, 2016.

I view the HDHP similar to carrying high deductible collision insurance on my car, where I bank the difference between low and high deductible costs. As always, YMMV. :)


I do exactly what you do, i.e., use GEHA with HDHP and pay my bills with other (non-HDHP) money. But I do it as an employee. I am wondering if this should change in retirement.

Victoria


Actually when I became eligible for Medicare Part B in retirement, I switched from BCBS to GEHA because the premium was lower and the coverage was fine for my situation. I did notice I that I paid a high co-pay for a prescription under GEHA that I presume would have been cheaper with BCBS, but don't know for sure. All in all it's saved me money.
Steve | Semper Fi

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by johne1 » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:25 pm

As a federal retiree I have Kaiser standard family for my FEHB and MEDICARE part A. Last March I went to a non-kaiser emergency room and later transported to Kaiser Hospital in San Diego. I was admitted, had surgery and was there 4 days. My total out of pocket expense for this was ZERO. Between Medicare and Kaiser the deductibles were covered completely. But when you think about it Medical part A has a cost (free for me) of $450.00/mo and Kaiser (my contribution and the government contribution) is almost $750/mo. For that amount of money all expenses should covered!

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by Barefootgirl » Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:05 am

Hi Victoria -

I do exactly what you do, i.e., use GEHA with HDHP and pay my bills with other (non-HDHP) money. But I do it as an employee. I am wondering if this should change in retirement.

Since I'm not ready yet to retire, I think I need to investigate this option. I am currently with BC/BS.

I suppose that now that open season is upon us, it's time. Did you find this worked better for you? I need to research, our agency barely announces this annual event, so I need to go find out.

Thanks, BFG
How many retired people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Only one, but he takes all day.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:37 am

Barefootgirl wrote:Hi Victoria -

I do exactly what you do, i.e., use GEHA with HDHP and pay my bills with other (non-HDHP) money. But I do it as an employee. I am wondering if this should change in retirement.

Since I'm not ready yet to retire, I think I need to investigate this option. I am currently with BC/BS.

I suppose that now that open season is upon us, it's time. Did you find this worked better for you? I need to research, our agency barely announces this annual event, so I need to go find out.

Thanks, BFG


Hi Barefootgirl,

I switched to GEHA four years ago on advice from another Forum member and did not regret it. I don't have any medical problems and GEHA covers all my checkups. Thus, I accumulate funds in the HSA and have virtually no out-of-pocket expenses. My doctor is affiliated with GWU and is in network.

Hope this helps,

Victoria
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Barefootgirl
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by Barefootgirl » Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:51 am

Thank you.:)

As a side note - last year, I switched from MetLife Dental to the GEHA dental and already noted an improvement in that plan over the prior plan (better coverage).

BFG
How many retired people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Only one, but he takes all day.

g9ujra
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by g9ujra » Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:27 am

I currently have the "Aetna HealthFund -HDHP", however I'm wonder if the GEHA with HDHP would be a better alternative. I'm also in the DC area and so far haven't used the plan other than for routine checkups. Any benefits of one vs the other?

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:29 am

g9ujra wrote:I currently have the "Aetna HealthFund -HDHP", however I'm wonder if the GEHA with HDHP would be a better alternative. I'm also in the DC area and so far haven't used the plan other than for routine checkups. Any benefits of one vs the other?



I have not tried Aetna, but GEHA is a non-profit provider and I am assuming that it provides a better value.

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TimeRunner
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by TimeRunner » Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:46 pm

As an update to previous post, wife's new health coverage is a HD health care plan with an HSA, all fees paid and $450/year employer contribution to HSA. As with many private insurance plans, it's slightly better than FEHBP coverage at lower employee cost with better deductables, but of course she can't keep it after she eventually quits or retires. I won't be adding her onto my plan at open season, and I'm keeping GEHA HDHP for 2014.
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by frugaltype » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:51 pm

TimeRunner wrote:
AnimalCrackers wrote:
TimeRunner wrote:. . . . and just enrolling in a very good plan such as BCBS Standard?


Please be careful with that analysis. You may want to determine....


Good points. I'm over six years away from a Medicare decision, and much is unknown going forward as far as Obamacare and how Congress will shape FEHBP's future. Staying tuned!


Obamacare has nothing to do with Medicare.

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by levendis » Wed Nov 06, 2013 4:20 pm

g9ujra wrote:I currently have the "Aetna HealthFund -HDHP", however I'm wonder if the GEHA with HDHP would be a better alternative. I'm also in the DC area and so far haven't used the plan other than for routine checkups. Any benefits of one vs the other?

I'm comparing those myself. According to the OPM plan comparison, it looks like GEHA has slightly cheaper premiums, but $1000 higher single and $2000 higher family out-of-pocket maximums. But it looks like most copays between the deductible and maximum is half of Aetna's - 5% vs. 10%. I'm not sure how to weigh those differences, but Aetna's lower maximum at first glance seems better to me.

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by ChrisC » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:31 pm

levendis wrote:
g9ujra wrote:I currently have the "Aetna HealthFund -HDHP", however I'm wonder if the GEHA with HDHP would be a better alternative. I'm also in the DC area and so far haven't used the plan other than for routine checkups. Any benefits of one vs the other?

I'm comparing those myself. According to the OPM plan comparison, it looks like GEHA has slightly cheaper premiums, but $1000 higher single and $2000 higher family out-of-pocket maximums. But it looks like most copays between the deductible and maximum is half of Aetna's - 5% vs. 10%. I'm not sure how to weigh those differences, but Aetna's lower maximum at first glance seems better to me.


I'm also making this comparison myself, as an annuitant/retiree. Looks almost like a wash to me. Can anyone tell us the HSA aspects of the GEHA HDHP? Who's the HSA custodian, what type of spend-management applications are used for the HSA, is there ease of contributions into the HSA (for a spouse making catch-up contributions), what investments are available with the HSA with GEHA, what are the HSA fees with the GEHA program, etc. Aetna-JP Chase Morgan has pretty good HSA features, and even if I migrated over to the GEHA HDHP, I'd likely keep my HSA with JP Chase Morgan.

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by TimeRunner » Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:09 pm

frugaltype wrote:
TimeRunner wrote:
AnimalCrackers wrote:
TimeRunner wrote:. . . . and just enrolling in a very good plan such as BCBS Standard?


Please be careful with that analysis. You may want to determine....


Good points. I'm over six years away from a Medicare decision, and much is unknown going forward as far as Obamacare and how Congress will shape FEHBP's future. Staying tuned!


Obamacare has nothing to do with Medicare.


Obamacare should have been Medicare, but it's not. Yet.
One cannot enlighten the unconscious. | Endurance athletes are the Bogleheads of sports. | "I like people - I just don't want to be around 'em." - Russell Gordy

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by joe8d » Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:16 pm

Obamacare should have been Medicare, but it's not. Yet.


Yup.
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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by Barefootgirl » Thu Nov 07, 2013 6:13 pm

Can anyone tell us the HSA aspects of the GEHA HDHP?

Seconded - or at least where to go to learn for ourselves? A search today (albeit quick) didn't reveal.


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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by tom0153 » Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:01 pm

Barefootgirl wrote:Can anyone tell us the HSA aspects of the GEHA HDHP?

Seconded - or at least where to go to learn for ourselves? A search today (albeit quick) didn't reveal.


Thanks


https://www.facebook.com/fedbenefits

You may be able to ask this question and obtain an answer on the Open Season Facebook page for Federal Benefits.
Best, Tom

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by TimeRunner » Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:08 pm

GEHA contracts with HSABank and pays the account fees. GEHA also deposits $62.50/month as well as whatever you deposit. From there, you can invest via a linked TD Ameritrade account. There are about 100 commission-free ETFs including Vanguard VTI and VEU. You can also pay a commission and buy whatever. HSABank will charge a fee if you don't keep enough behind in the savings account, but as has been mentioned in other threads, some keep the money behind (around $4925 as of Jan 2014) and others pay the fee to move it all to TDA. You should be able to find this info on HSABanks website. Here's the link to their PDF of Account Fees & Interest Schedule: http://www.hsabank.com/~/media/files/fees_s1
One cannot enlighten the unconscious. | Endurance athletes are the Bogleheads of sports. | "I like people - I just don't want to be around 'em." - Russell Gordy

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by nybestalex » Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:10 pm

This page,

https://www.geha.com/Plans-and-Benefits ... -Advantage

Links you to this page, which is HSA Bank

http://www.hsabank.com/hsabank/educatio ... ax-savings

And eventually you get some information from this page,

http://www.hsabank.com/~/media/files/fees_s1

Looks like interest rates go from .09% to .64%

What does not work for me with these HSA plans is that if one used VA (Veterans Affairs) services in the last 3 months then one cannont have HSA account contributions. I am a veteran and use VA services for some things so I stick with BCBS standard.

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Re: Federal Retirees: Why Medicare?

Post by ChrisC » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:33 am

Thanks all for posting the information about the GEHA with HSA Bank as the HSA Custodian. I've been pleased with Aetna and JP Chase Morgan as an HSA Custodian. The Custodian fees for both seem comparable though HSA Bank appears to provide a better money market interest rate on funds parked in the account. I really like the spend-management features of Chase's program, makes recording of medical expenses very easy and moving of funds from your HSA account to yourself for medical expense reimbursement or directly to providers through the debit card or direct electronic transfer appears seamless.

I guess I should really base my decision on the medical coverage, premium and medical providers in the networks, rather than HSA custodian features, though I'm really reluctant to have HSA accounts in two different Custodians.

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Re: Federal Retirees: Open Season options

Post by tom0153 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:08 pm

Somewhat off center of the OP, the Open Season opportunities offered annually and for certain life events (like retirement and future health cost concerns) can throw the retiree off center - particularly where the support of co-workers or OPM worksite presentations are no longer available.

OPM is doing better making the info available online. See: http://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/open-season/ for an annual review and note that plan comparison is easier and more complete.

Additionally, there is a private subscription option for following health care options, and one which is free - for the latter, see: https://www.plansmartchoice.com/Registr ... osession=Y

I just want to underscore that the variety of health plans available suits an entire range of health needs, both actual and potential. Obviously, some plans will best suit younger people who feel that their health is good, and will continue to be good. Other plans may suit people with chronic illness more than others, and others might protect families better than the single individual. One thing that is important in selecting one plan over another is that it is important to understand the risks, just as we seek to understand how to manage the risks in investing and other elements of personal finance.
Best, Tom

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