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Healthcare Medicare

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a Health Insurance Program for:

  • People 65 years of age and older.
  • Some people with disabilities under 65 years of age.
  • People with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant).

Medicare has four parts:

  • Part A (Hospital Insurance). Most people do not have to pay for Part A. If you or your spouse worked for at least 10 years in Medicare-covered employment, you should be able to qualify for premium-free Part A insurance. (If you were a Federal employee at any time both before and during January 1983, you will receive credit for your Federal employment before January 1983.) Otherwise, if you are age 65 or older, you may be able to buy it. Contact 1-800-MEDICARE for more information.

  • Part B (Medical Insurance). Most people pay monthly for Part B. Generally, Part B premiums are withheld from your monthly Social Security check or your retirement check.

  • Part C (Medicare Advantage). If you are eligible for Medicare, you may have choices in how you get your health care. Medicare Advantage is the term used to describe the various health plan choices available to Medicare beneficiaries. If you are eligible for Medicare, you may choose to enroll in and get your Medicare benefits from a Medicare managed care plan. These are health care choices (like HMOs) in some areas of the country. In most Medicare managed care plans, you can only go to doctors, specialists, or hospitals that are part of the plan. Medicare managed care plans provide all the benefits that Original Medicare covers. Some cover extras, like prescription drugs. To learn more about enrolling in a Medicare managed care plan, contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or at www.medicare.gov.

    You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan to get your Medicare benefits. Medicare Advantage is the term used to describe the various private health plan choices available to Medicare beneficiaries.

  • Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage). There is a monthly premium for Part D coverage. Most Federal employees do not need to enroll in the Medicare drug program, since all Federal Employees Health Benefits Program plans will have prescription drug benefits that are at least equal to the standard Medicare prescription drug coverage. Still, you may want to be aware of the benefits Medicare is offering, so you can help others make informed decisions. If you have limited savings and a low income, you may be eligible for Medicare's Low-Income Benefits. For people with limited income and resources, extra help in paying for a Medicare prescription drug plan is available. Information regarding this program is available through the Social Security Administration (SSA). For more information about this extra help, visit SSA online at www.ssa.gov, or call them at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

    The FEHB health plan brochures explain how they coordinate benefits with Medicare, depending on the type of Medicare managed care plan you have. If you are eligible for Medicare coverage read this information carefully, as it will have a real bearing on your benefits.

    The Original Medicare Plan (Original Medicare) is available everywhere in the United States. It is the way everyone used to get Medicare benefits and is the way most people get their Medicare Part A and Part B benefits now. You may go to any doctor, specialist, or hospital that accepts Medicare. The Original Medicare Plan pays its share and you pay your share. Some things are not covered under Original Medicare, like prescription drugs.

Should I enroll in Medicare?

The decision to enroll in Medicare is yours. We encourage you to apply for Medicare benefits 3 months before you turn age 65. It's easy. Just call the Social Security Administration toll-fee number 1-800-772-1213 to set up an appointment to apply. If you do not apply for one or more Parts of Medicare, you can still be covered under the FEHB Program.

If you can get premium-free Part A coverage, we advise you to enroll in it. Most Federal employees and annuitants are entitled to Medicare Part A at age 65 without cost. When you don't have to pay premiums for Medicare Part A, it makes good sense to obtain coverage. It can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses as well as costs to FEHB, which can help keep FEHB premiums down.

Everyone is charged a premium for Medicare Part B coverage. The Social Security Administration can provide you with premium and benefit information. Review the information and decide if it makes sense for you to buy the Medicare Part B coverage.

If you are eligible for Medicare, you may have choices in how you get your health care. Medicare Advantage is the term used to describe the various private health plan choices available to Medicare beneficiaries. The information in the next few pages shows how we coordinate benefits with Medicare, depending on whether you are in the Original Medicare Plan or a private Medicare Advantage Plan.

The Original Medicare Plan (Part A and Part B)

The Original Medicare Plan (Original Medicare) is available everywhere in the United States. It is the way everyone used to get Medicare benefits and is the way most people get their Medicare Part A and Part B benefits now. You may go to any doctor, specialist, or hospital that accepts Medicare. The Original Medicare Plan pays its share and you pay your share.

When you are enrolled in Original medicare along with an FEHB Plan, you still need to follow the rules in the Plan's brochure to cover your care.

Please consult your health plan for specific information about filing your claims when you have the Original Medicare Plan.

Medicare Advantage (Part C)

If you are eligible for Medicare, you may choose to enroll in and get your Medicare benefits from a Medicare Advantage plan. These are private health care choices (like HMO's) in some areas of the country. To learn more about Medicare Advantage plans, contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or at www.medicare.gov.

Please consult your health plan for specific options available to you when you have a Medicare Advantage plan.

Suspended FEHB coverage to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan:

If you are an annuitant or former spouse, you can suspend your FEHB coverage to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, eliminating your FEHB premium. (OPM does not contribute to your Medicare Advantage plan premium.) For information on suspending your FEHB enrollment, contact your retirement office. If you later want to re-enroll in the FEHB program, generally you may do so only at the next Open Season unless you involuntarily lose coverage or move out of the Medicare Advantage plan's service area.

Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D)

When the FEHB plan is the primary payer, the FEHB plan will process the claim first. If you enroll in Medicare Part D and we are the secondary payer, we will review claims for your prescription drug costs that are not covered by Medicare Part D and consider them for payment under the FEHB plan.

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