Q. I become eligible for Medicare in November. But I will continue to work past my 65th birthday and do not plan to draw Social Security until age 66. How do I go about paying for my Part B Medicare?
A. You have several options. First, you can simply put off Medicare and Tricare for Life enrollment and stay with your employer plan. As long as you're still employed and covered by an employer health plan, you can delay enrollment in Medicare parts A and B without having to worry about the premium penalty that applies to people who do not sign up for Medicare Part B when they first become eligible.
However, when you finally do decide to stop working, you must enroll in parts A and B within eight months of your last day of work or the last day of coverage under your employer health plan, whichever comes first, to avoid that premium penalty.
If your spouse is younger, she'll continue under her or your employer health plan or stay under Tricare Standard or Prime until age 65.
Second, you can go with both the employer plan and TFL, although that level of health coverage may be overkill — and you'll have to pay both your employer premiums and Medicare Part B premiums.
Finally, you may be able to suspend your employer plan at age 65, enroll in Medicare parts A and B and go with TFL. If you are able to suspend that coverage, that's better than canceling it outright, since it leaves the door open to return to your employer coverage should you want to in the future. Check with your employer on that.
If you suspend your employer coverage and use TFL only, Medicare would be first payer and Tricare would act as a Medicare supplement. If you go with both your employer plan and TFL, the employer plan would be the first payer, Medicare second and Tricare third.
Q. I am a National Guard retiree, age 60, and I'm currently receiving retirement pay. Will my spouse be eligible for Tricare Prime, Standard or Extra when I die?
A. Your spouse would remain eligible for the same Tricare options and costs that are in effect for her now. When she reaches age 65 and becomes entitled to Medicare, she would transition into Tricare for Life.
However, one large condition is attached to maintaining her Tricare eligibility after your death: She must not remarry. If she does, her Tricare eligibility would cease, and it could never be restored under your sponsorship, even if her second marriage ended in death or divorce.
Write to Tricare Help, Times News Service, 6883 Commercial Drive, Springfield, VA 22159; or firstname.lastname@example.org. In email, include the word "Tricare" in the subject line and do not attach files. Get Tricare advice anytime at www.militarytimes.com/tricarehelp.