Q. My active-duty husband is about to retire. While browsing the Tricare Prime handbook, I found something I don’t understand. In the section “Becoming Entitled to Medicare,” it states: “To avoid a break in Tricare coverage, active-duty members and active-duty family members must sign up for Medicare Part B before their sponsor’s active-duty status ends.” Do we really have to sign up for Part B before my husband retires?
A. No need to worry. The passage you cite is for the relatively small number of Tricare beneficiaries who become entitled to Medicare Part A earlier than the normal eligibility age of 65 due to certain medical conditions, such as end-stage renal disease.
Active-duty personnel and family members under age 65 who become entitled to Medicare Part A in such circumstances remain eligible for Tricare without having to sign up for premium-based Medicare Part B outpatient insurance.
But if an active-duty sponsor retires, the sponsor and/or any family members who are eligible for Medicare Part A must sign up for Part B to retain Tricare eligibility in retired status.
Bottom line: If you and your husband are under age 65 and neither of you is entitled to Medicare Part A, you’ll be eligible for Tricare Prime or Standard as ordinary retiree beneficiaries and will not have to think about Part B until you turn 65.
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