What effects does living abroad have on my FEHB plan?

Federal Times publishes daily “Ask the Expert” columns. The following is a reader question regarding retirement and other concerns affecting the federal worker that was sent to Federal Times. Reg Jones, a founding member of the senior executive service and a columnist for the Federal Times since 1995, responds.


I’m now working overseas for the Department of the Army. The FEHB plan covers me via Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan 104 as a federal employee.

I have chosen to stay abroad for the time being to continue exploring and enjoying this experience before I retire.

My major worry is if I will still have BC & BS coverage.

Will BC & BS acknowledge medical bills paid to “bob-participating” hospitals and medical facilities? (Note: Italy lacks institutions and caregivers with such affiliations.)

Finally, I have been urged not to sign up for Medicare part B because it is expensive and ineffectual abroad (I humbly ask for your thoughts).

Reg’s Reaction

Yes, you can still receive BC/BS coverage while traveling, with few exceptions. (North Korea is an exception because it is one of the nations that are blacklisted.) You will need to discuss the specifics of the coverage and its amount with your insurance plan. Sometimes the cost of the bill may be fully or partially reimbursed. You might need to foot the fee before submitting your BC/BS claim.

While you may not profit from signing up for Medicare Part B while you are abroad, if you wait until you are initially eligible for the coverage, your monthly premiums will rise for each year that you would have qualified for coverage.

Contact Information:
Email: rick@andrikfinancial.com
Phone: 9568933225

Rick Viader is a Federal Retirement Consultant that uses proven strategies to help federal employees achieve their financial goals and make sure they receive all the benefits they worked so hard to achieve.

In helping federal employees, Rick has seen the need to offer retirement plan coaching where Human Resources departments either could not or were not able to assist. For almost 14 years, Rick has specialized in using federal government benefits and retirement systems to maximize retirement incomes.

His goals are to guide federal employees to achieve their financial goals while maximizing their retirement incomes.

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