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Aetna Federal
Retirement Planning Checklist

Planning for retirement can be complicated

We’ve put together a retirement checklist to help guide you on your path to retirement health coverage. Whatever stage of your federal career you’re in, we have the resources to provide you with informed and personalized guidance.

And if you need live help, we’re here to chat – contact us now

New tools

Aetna Federal Retiree Savings Calculator

Our newest tool provides a customized financial estimate of your future health insurance costs. This tool will offer a cost estimate of your Aetna Medicare Advantage plan savings.

See your savings now

Planning for the future

It’s important to start planning for retirement and determining your appropriate medical coverage.

The FEHB health plan you’ve had your entire career might not be tailored to your upcoming health needs.

Let’s look at some things to consider when planning:

The 5 Year Rule

When you retire from the federal government, you’re eligible to continue your FEHB coverage when you’ve met the following requirements:

  1. You have retired on an immediate annuity (an annuity which begins to accrue no later than one month after the date of your final separation).
  2. You have been continuously enrolled (or covered as a family member) in any FEHB plan (not necessarily the same plan) for the five years preceding retirement. Or if less than 5 years, for all service since your first opportunity to enroll. (This requirement still allows you to switch freely between FEHB plans to ensure the best coverage while not sacrificing post-retirement coverage.)

Preparing for future medical costs

Health issues and expenses can increase as you age in retirement. As a result, it’s important to be aware of your coverage options and the associated premiums, copayments, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket costs.

Fortunately, there are two Aetna federal plans designed for retirees, the Aetna Medicare℠ Plan (PPO) with extended service area (ESA), (also known as Aetna Medicare Advantage) or The Aetna Direct℠ Plan. These plans provide extra benefits and cost savings when paired with Medicare. Overall, the goal is to ensure you will be both medically covered and financially secure as you enjoy retirement.

Living on a fixed income

Living on a fixed income in retirement requires thoughtful preparation. Managing your finances, including your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and your FEHB health plan can help provide you with the peace of mind to enjoy your retirement years. It’s important to be mindful of your retirement savings and your expenses, both planned and unplanned.

Understand your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP):
  • Withdrawal guidelines
  • Answers to frequently asked questions

Understanding Medicare

Prepare for your future health coverage. has additional resources to help:
  • Eligibility time frame
  • Expected premium costs

Becoming eligible for Medicare

Get to know Medicare and how it relates to you FEHB Plan.

What is Medicare?

At first glance, Medicare may seem like a lot to figure out, especially since you keep your FEHB coverage after you retire. But think of it this way — your FEHB plan has deductibles and coinsurance, which you pay out of pocket. Original Medicare does too.

Aetna offers nationwide plans designed for federal retirees. When they’re combined with Medicare, coinsurance and deductibles could be lowered to $0 for most medical expenses. When you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, that’s how these plans work. It’s possible to decrease your out-of-pocket medical expenses, as well as your monthly premiums.

So, let’s close the loop on Medicare with a brief description of its parts. Keep in mind, this does not consider your FEHB plan:

Your first chance to sign up

Generally, when you turn 65*

This is called your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). It lasts for 7 months, starting 3 months before you turn 65, and ending 3 months after the month you turn 65. For more information on how to enroll visit

*Exceptions apply if born on the first of the month or qualify for special enrollment.

Medicare Enrollment:
  • Visit Social Security website for more information and to enroll
  • Call Social Security: 1-800-772-1213. (TTY: 1-800-325-0778)

Working beyond 65

It can be confusing to understand when to enroll in Medicare and how to pair it with your Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) plan, especially when you’re still working. To help navigate this uncertainty and get more informed there are resources available.

Visit the Medicare website to see the right course of action when signing up for Medicare.

FEHB enrollment special exception

Becoming eligible for Medicare provides a federal retiree with a one-time opportunity to switch health plans. If you never used this option to switch plans when you became eligible, it’s not too late. There’s no time limit to this OPM rule.

Enroll in Medicare with your FEHB plan?

Enrolling in Medicare Part B is optional. It’s entirely your decision. However, here are some things to consider.

Current and future health status:
  • Consider the health status of you and your spouse. Healthcare costs tend to increase with age, and Medicare Part B will help cover some of the costs.
  • Be aware of your family history, many conditions can be inherited (for example, cancer, heart disease and diabetes).
  • Even in good health, accidents and health concerns occur. Being prepared with Medicare Part B can help you maintain your financial security.

Current and projected costs compared to Medicare premiums:
  • Compare your plans out-of-pocket limit to Medicare Part B premiums
  • Compare your copayments, coinsurances, and deductible to Medicare Part B premiums

Plans that work with Medicare

Aetna Direct when Original Medicare is primary, and your provider accepts Medicare:
  • Waived deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance
  • $900 yearly fund that can help pay prescription costs or Medicare Part B premiums
Aetna Medicare Advantage when your provider accepts Medicare:
  • $0 deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance
  • Up to a $900 reduction in Part B premiums for eligible members

Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty

Part B has a late enrollment penalty that will increase your monthly premium by 10% for every 12-month period you do not enroll after your Initial Election Period.


Your Initial Election Period ended September 30, 2017. You waited to sign up for Part B until the General Enrollment Period in March 2020. Your Part B premium penalty is 20%. (While you waited a total of 30 months to sign up, this included only 2 full 12-month periods.) You’ll have to pay this penalty for as long as you have Part B.

The Aetna federal retiree plans align well with Medicare, offering waived costs and extended coverage when member has Medicare Parts A and B. Visit to see how enrolling in Medicare enhances these plans for you.


Potential medical costs

As health care needs increase, the coverage you have will make a difference in the costs you incur. It is important to understand the various scenarios you may be faced with to help you make the best decision on your health coverage.

Retiree health scenario examples

In this video and PDF guide we'll take a look at 3 Federal retirees*: John, Linda and Mary. Each chose a different FEHB plan in retirement. We’ll review how each retiree fared when using their health benefits in a variety of scenarios and see how their choices affected their annual out-of-pocket expenses.

*These are fictitious examples using actual FEHB rates and benefits.

Does it matter which health plan you choose when you retire?

Watch the video
Download our Retiree Health Scenario Examples (PDF)

Retiree Savings Calculator

Our newest tool, the Retiree Savings Calculator provides a customized financial estimate of your future health insurance costs. Many FEHB plans waive deductibles and copays for medical services when you have Original Medicare (Parts A and B) as primary, but you still need to consider your other out of pocket costs when choosing the right plan for retirement. These costs include your FEHB premium, Medicare Part B premium and your prescription costs. By providing personalized values of your premium and prescription drugs, this tool will offer a cost estimate of your Aetna Medicare Advantage plan savings.

View calculator now

Live help / how to enroll

You have successfully navigated through the Aetna Federal Retirement Planning Checklist. There’s a lot of information and you may have questions. Chat with an Aetna federal team member now!

Schedule a one-on-one | Register for a webinar

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Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).

Aetna Medicare is an HMO, PPO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in our plans depends on contract renewal. Plan features and availability may vary by service area.

Information is believed to be accurate as of the production date; however, it is subject to change. For more information about Aetna plans, refer to

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