Medicare Part B


Q. I recently retired from federal service without adequate information on purchasing Medicare Part B. On the surface I was wondering if it made any sense to expand my health insurance beyond what I was getting as a full-time employee. I was unable to find a source where someone actually did an economic analysis of the issue. From my standpoint, it is an economic decision: I can afford to pay either way. I have Kaiser health insurance in northern California, and it seems to save $5 when I see a doctor if I pay for Part B; $10 for a prescription. This savings does not cover the cost of Part B, but maybe it will as a person enters their 80s.

One possible benefit, it seems, is if I ever need a specialist who is outside of Kaiser’s network, Part B would pick up that cost.

Can you point me in the direction of what research has been done?

A. From an economic perspective, you should not enroll in Part B unless you are confident that the enrollment will produce more in benefits than it costs. I don’t know of any research that is useful in making this determination since it depends entirely upon your particular circumstances.

In my experience, most FEBHP participants will not benefit from enrolling in Part B.


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Mike Miles is a Certified Financial Planner licensee and principal adviser for Variplan LLC, an independent fiduciary in Vienna, Virginia. Email your financial questions to and view his blog at

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