Reg Jones Expert's View

Are you covered by Medicare? Are you a federal retiree? Are you enrolled in an FEHB plan? If so, should you enroll in a Medigap policy? That’s what we’re here to discover. Let’s start with a quick review of what a Medigap plan is.


A Medigap plan is designed to fill in gaps in what Medicare covers. Although every state has a standardized Medigap plan, those plans have a different set of benefits. The good news is that each standardized Medigap plan must cover certain basic benefits, including Medicare coinsurance and copayments. On the other hand, they don’t cover a lot of other things, such as long-term care, vision and dental care, hearing aids, private-duty nursing or unlimited prescription drugs.

The cost of these Medigap plans varies by state and locality but you can save some money if you are willing to enroll in a Medicare Select plan, which requires the use of specific hospitals and, in some cases, doctors. Although a Medicare Select plan will not pay for care you receive from non-plan providers, Medicare will pay its share of any regularly covered expenses, leaving you to pay any deductibles or coinsurances.

Now that you know what a Medigap plan is, let’s answer the question, "Do you need to buy one?" If you are a federal retiree who is covered by Medicare and enrolled in a Medicare managed care plan or a fee-for-service plan, such as Blue Cross-Blue Shield or GEHA, the answer is absolutely not. That’s not just my opinion. The Department of Health and Human Services reached the same conclusion when it determined that a Medigap policy won’t provide you with any coverage that you don’t already have.

That’s also the conclusion of other retirement experts who say that FEHB plans are superior to most Medigap policies and that annuitants who have both Medicare and FEHB would only be paying extra for duplicate coverage.