Navigating Medicare Part B for Federal Government Employees: A Comprehensive Guide


As federal employees approach retirement, understanding their healthcare options becomes increasingly crucial. One such option is Medicare Part B, which plays a significant role in ensuring comprehensive medical coverage during retirement. In this article, we will explore what Medicare Part B is, how it differs from the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program, what it covers, what it doesn't cover, and how it can be used in conjunction with FEHB. Let's dive in and unravel the complexities of Medicare Part B for federal retirees.

1. What is Medicare Part B?

Medicare Part B is a federally funded health insurance program that provides coverage for outpatient care, medical supplies, preventive services, and doctor visits. It is designed to complement the hospital insurance coverage offered by Medicare Part A.

2. What Retirees Need to Know About FEHB and Medicare:

Federal retirees have the option to enroll in Medicare Part B while retaining their FEHB coverage. (with the exception of Postal Retirees who are required to enroll in Medicare B). It's important to note that in retirement, if you participate in Medicare it acts as the primary payer, meaning it covers medical expenses first, with FEHB serving as secondary coverage. This is reversed if someone participates in Medicare while still employed, which is typically not recommended. Most people don’t need to enroll in Medicare until they retire.

3. What Does Medicare Part B Cover?

Medicare Part B covers a wide range of services, including doctor visits, preventive care, lab tests, durable medical equipment, outpatient surgeries, and certain vaccines. This coverage ensures that federal retirees have access to essential medical services without facing exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses.

4. What Doesn't Medicare Part B Cover?

While Medicare Part B offers comprehensive coverage, there are certain services and items it doesn't cover. These include prescription drugs, routine dental care, routine eye exams, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and long-term care. Retirees should carefully assess their healthcare needs to determine if additional coverage is required.

5. Can Retirees Use Medicare Part B and FEHB Together?

Yes, federal retirees can use both Medicare Part B and FEHB together to maximize their healthcare coverage. By combining the benefits of both programs, retirees can reduce their risk of high out-of-pocket expenses.

6. The Most Important Factors to Understand about Medicare Part B for Federal Retirees:

a) Enrollment: Federal employees approaching retirement should enroll in Medicare Part B during their initial enrollment period to avoid late enrollment penalties. This occurs at age 65 OR within 8 months after retirement. Whichever comes LATER. 

b) Premiums: Medicare Part B requires retirees to pay monthly premiums, which are typically deducted from their Social Security benefits. See chart below.

c) Coordination of Benefits: Retirees must inform their healthcare providers about their dual coverage under Medicare Part B and FEHB to ensure proper coordination of benefits.


As federal government employees transition into retirement, understanding the intricacies of Medicare Part B is vital. By comprehending what Medicare Part B covers, what it doesn't cover, and how it can be used in conjunction with FEHB, federal retirees can make informed decisions about their healthcare coverage. 

Remember, enrolling in Medicare Part B during the initial enrollment period, understanding premiums, and ensuring proper coordination of benefits are key steps to maximizing the benefits of Medicare Part B for federal retirees. Wishing you a healthy and fulfilling retirement journey!

Additional Resources

  • Find educational videos on how to maximize Medicare and FEHB in retirement HERE 
  • Attend an upcoming, complimentary webinar on Medicare and FEHB where you can ask questions and get clarification on sometimes-confusing rules and policies

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