New Medicare Advantage and FEHB Cost-Saving Options

There is an additional option previously available through some West Coast Kaiser plans and now available in most parts of the country through UnitedHealthcare plans. Under these “Senior Advantage 2” and “Retiree Advantage” options, you enroll in these carriers’ local Medicare Advantage plan while remaining fully enrolled in their local FEHB plan rather than suspending FEHB enrollment. You nominally pay both premiums but obtain a large Part B premium reimbursement equal to most of the cost of the regular Part B premium. In effect, you can enroll in both programs at not much more than the cost of one premium. You get much-reduced cost-sharing—close to zero cost to you for hospital and doctor services—if you use network providers. You can also use your FEHB plan outside the Medicare Advantage network. To find out more about these options, these carriers have more information on their websites (www.uhcfeds.com and www.kp.org/feds) and provide phone access to specialized teams of advisors. The nationwide UnitedHealthcare contact number is 844-481-8821. The Kaiser number for Kaiser Northwest is 877-221-8221, for Kaiser Washington is 855-366-9013, for Kaiser Northern and Southern California is 800-443-0815, and for Kaiser Colorado is 800-476-2167. The Kaiser DC plan does not reimburse Medicare premiums, but does offer improved benefits for those who enroll in its Medicare Advantage and FEHB plans, 301-816-6143.

In addition, other options that coordinate benefits either by premium subsidy or by dual enrollment in an FEHB plan and a Medicare Advantage plan are growing. This includes two Aetna plans that provide major cost reductions for all annuitants with Medicare Parts A and B: the national Aetna Direct plan and a national plan that is new for 2020, the Aetna Advantage plan (both at 888-238-6240).