How Do Medicare Part B and FEHB Work Together?


Quick Answer

Medicare Part B and FEHB complement each other because each plan provides coverage for medical needs that the other plan does not cover or only partially covers, reports the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. While Medicare only covers medical needs in the United States, FEHB also covers medical emergencies overseas.

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Full Answer

Although retaining both Medicare Part B and a Federal Employees Health Benefits program is more expensive because it requires the payment of two premiums, the FEHB plan can function as a medigap policy to fill gaps in Medicare coverage, according to Consumer Reports. Since Medicare provides primary coverage for some aspects of FEHB plans, FEHB holders can switch to cheaper plans when they also have Medicare Part B. Services that Medicare Part B covers that are not covered or only partly covered by FEHB include orthopedic and prosthetic devices, medical equipment, medical supplies, chiropractic services, and home health care, according to the U.S. Department of Personnel Management. Certain FEHB plans supplement Medicare Part B coverage with vision, dental and prescription drug services, and they may waive deductibles and copayments if patients have Medicare Part B.

To avoid paying permanent higher premium penalties, individuals must enroll in Medicare Part B as soon as they become eligible at age 65, as reported by Medicare. However, active employees over 65 covered under an FEHB plan can enroll in Medicare Part B without penalty within eight months of leaving work or discontinuing the FEHB plan, states the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

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