Fedweek

About a quarter of Medicare-eligible postal retirees covered do not enroll in Part B, generally out of a view that it largely duplicates coverage they already have under the FEHB. Image: pio3/Shutterstock.com

A “special enrollment period” opened Monday (April 1) and will continue for six months in which Postal Service retirees eligible for Medicare Part B can enroll in it without the standard penalty – which applies when enrolling more than three months beyond first eligibility (typically on turning age 65).

The period was a feature of the 2022 Postal Service reform law that among other things required moving postal employees and retirees out of the FEHB and into a new Postal Service Health Benefits program to begin in 2025. That program will in many ways mirror the FEHB, although with fewer carriers, a yet-to-be-determined difference in premiums, and a general requirement that those retiring from the USPS after this year be enrolled in Part B to be eligible for coverage under the PSHB.

Part B covers physicians and related services; about a quarter of Medicare-eligible postal retirees covered do not enroll in Part B, generally out of a view that it largely duplicates coverage they already have under the FEHB.

According to a Postal Service fact sheet: “If you are an annuitant as of January 1, 2025, and not currently participating in Medicare Part B, you ARE NOT required to enroll in Medicare Part B to continue your health insurance coverage in the new PSHB Program. Participation in Medicare Part B is voluntary; however, enrollment in Medicare Part B may reduce your overall costs for health care-related expenses and may provide greater value.”

It adds: “Your covered spouse and eligible family members will also not be required to enroll in Medicare Part B even if they are age 65 or older; however, enrollment in Medicare Part B may reduce overall costs for health care-related expenses and may provide greater value. Note: If you are an annuitant as of January 1, 2025, and are already enrolled in Medicare Part B, you ARE required to remain enrolled in Medicare Part B to continue coverage under PSHB.”

It says that as a general rule, “spousal and family member PSHB coverage is based on the primary subscriber’s eligibility. If the primary subscriber is not required to join Medicare Part B, neither will dependent family members. Likewise, if you qualify for the SEP, so will your covered family members.”

Affected retirees should have receive notification of their options in the mail by now. Those wishing to enroll under Part B under that offer must return it by mail, postmarked no later than September 30. If elected, coverage—and Part B premiums—will be effective January 1, 2025.

The fact sheet and further information, including considerations for those who will retire with immediate eligibility for Medicare later this year, contact points for those who did not receive notification letters, and more, are here.

Report: Underuse of Federal Office Space at ‘Unprecedented’ Levels

Court Takes Restrictive Reading on Completing Probationary Period

Most Remaining Workplace Covid Policies Ended; Safety Plans to Remain

Schedule F Would Have Turned ‘Substantial’ Portion of Feds into ‘At-Will’ Employees

Agencies Told to Review FEHB Enrollments for Ineligible Family Members

See also,

A Refresher Course on FEGLI Life Insurance

How Much Federal Employee Benefits are Actually Worth

Are Feds Over-Compensated?

How Not to Lose Your Federal Insurance at Retirement

What TSP Millionaires Do That Others Don’t

Calculator: See Your Annuity Estimate!

FERS Retirement Guide 2024