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Coordinating your health plan with Medicare: Does it work for you?

Many of the 4-plus million people enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program are either retired civil servants, or the spouses or survivor annuitants of a former fed.

Thanks to the federal benefits program, many retirees are at least as comfortable and financially secure as their private sector counterparts. But many aren’t, and some find the otherwise attractive benefits program — especially the health insurance part — confusing if not bewildering.

Many feds, especially if they have been retired for a few years, have been in the same health plan for a long time. Meaning there is a good chance they picked and stayed with a plan — while an excellent deal at the time — is now too expensive for them. In some cases retirees/survivors are paying $1000 to $2000 more per year, when they could get the same (in some cases actually better) coverage by switching from their current plans high option into its standard or basic plan. Similar coverage. Much lower premiums.

But with 30-plus plans to choose from, many working feds and retirees go into shutdown mode and do nothing during the annual health insurance open season. This year it ends on Dec. 13. But that won’t help if you don’t shop around. Inertia is easy.

This year retired feds and spouses have another attractive (or annoying) option. A Medicare Advantage plan. One that coordinates with various FEHB plans to cut premiums, improve drug coverage, etc. But where to start?

The Medicare Advantage ads are everywhere. There are lots of options. But you need to start somewhere. Like today. The National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) Association is offering an online guide that is free to NARFE members and costs $48 for non-members, which includes a one-year membership in NARFE.  The session is live today at 2 p.m. for those who are ready. And it can be repeated anytime if you are not ready today. Federal benefits expert Tammy Flanagan recommends it highly to retirees, whether in or out of NARFE. She realizes how difficult it is to shop and compare.

Here’s how NARFE and Tammy, explain it:

As an active or retired federal employee, turning 65 means two important things: You’re eligible for health coverage under both FEHB and Medicare, and you have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change health plans outside of Open Season—this can be your “do-over” if you want to change to a different plan before the next year. Some FEHB plans provide a health fund or Medicare reimbursement, while others waive cost sharing and have lower premiums. Many work well for couples who are over and under age 65, but plans can be expensive. The big question is: Are they are worth it?

With so many choices, figuring out the right balance of coverages can be confusing. Let NARFE federal benefits expert Tammy Flanagan help remove the guesswork from your decision as she shows you:

  • How individual FEHB plans work with Medicare Parts A & B
  • Which plans provide significant incentives to enroll in Medicare Part B
  • How the prescription drug benefits compare with the most popular FEHB plans
  • How to change health plans once you are eligible for Medicare
  • And much more

A live Q&A session will follow the NARFE live presentation.

Coordinating your health plan with Medicare is the key to keeping your cost down and ensuring you’ll have the best possible coverage. Let NARFE show you the way with this valuable learning experience.

Here’s a direct link to register for Thursday’s Medicare and FEHB webinar:

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Alazar Moges

The four largest freshwater lakes in the world are found in Michigan. Lake Superior leads the pack, followed by Lake Victoria, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Source: World Atlas

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