Our agency works with Medicare insurance products for individuals. However, we get a lot of questions here from retirees with government benefits asking about when and if they should enroll in Medicare or how their retiree benefits will work with Medicare.
Since we don’t sell or work with these products, we, unfortunately, don’t have the training or the knowledge to tell you about your current year’s benefits. Our license and certifications also do not cover government programs, so we are therefore not qualified to advise you on those benefits.
Something we’ve realized though is that most people don’t even know how to get in touch with the benefits administrator for their plans or know where to turn.
We CAN help with that by pointing you to the right places. Here are some resources for people with government retiree plans.
Tricare for Life
Military retirees can elect to have Tricare for Life be the secondary coverage after Medicare. TFL members DO need to enroll in both Medicare Parts A and B because TFL acts as a wrap-around coverage for Medicare.
It’s important that people with TFL realize that if they opt for a Medicare Advantage plan instead of Original Medicare, this can interrupt the coordination of TFL benefits with Original Medicare.
You can read more about that here in this post we’ve written.
Visit the Tricare for Life website to read more: https://tricare.mil/tfl
Veterans can choose to get their treatment solely from the VA, but their level of benefits depends on their level of disability. If you are a veteran and want to be able to seek treatment from non-VA doctors and hospitals, you can opt to join Medicare Parts A and B.
We highly recommend this so that you have an option for civilian coverage because if you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B when you are first eligible, you could face late enrollment penalties and delayed start dates for Part B later on down the road.
You might also consider enrolling in Part D because the VA doesn’t cover all medications and you can’t fill a prescription through the VA pharmacy if a civilian doctor prescribed it.
Read more about VA and Medicare in this post.
Visit the VA website for more information about how VA healthcare works with Medicare and other coverage.
ChampVA provides coverage to the spouse or widow(er) and also to the children of certain veterans. To learn more about Medicare and Champva, visit these sites:
Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB)
We get hundreds of questions about FEHB every year. In fact, we get so many questions that we have even created a basic video about FEHB and Medicare just to give federal retirees a starting point, even though we don’t sell or service these plans.
FEHB retirees who are entitled to Part A without paying premiums should go ahead and enroll as it can’t hurt you and might help you. However, it is up to you whether you choose to enroll in Part B, since you’ll have monthly premiums associated with Part B based on your income.
Fortunately, the Office of Personnel Management has put together a great page that explains everything you need to know about the coordination of Medicare and FEHB benefits. You can find a list of frequently asked questions and a link to the FEHB and Medicare booklet here.
In California they have their own public employee retirement system. If you are living in California and are entitled to CalPERS, visit their website for information eligibility and enrollment-related to Medicare.
Teacher Retirement System
Various states have teacher retirement programs and if you are a retired teacher, you will need to get information about coordination between Medicare and TRS for your state from the benefits administrator offering TRS in your state.
The one we get asked about most frequently is TRS of Texas because at this time the costs for TRS are high and they also require retired teachers to join a Medicare Advantage plan, which isn’t always the best choice for them if their doctors do not participate in that plan’s network.
To learn more about TRS and Medicare, visit the Texas TRS site here.
So if you have one of these government programs, we hope you at least now have some resources to get the information you need. Feel free to visit our New to Medicare section to learn more about how your Original Medicare benefits work as well.