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BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

Stop, Look & Listen: Railroad Retirement Benefits Q&A

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Medicare Program for Railroad Retirement Beneficiaries

(Posted July 10, 2000(Revised July 23, 2000))

Question 56: Which federal agency is responsible for the Medicare program for railroad retirees? I called the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) and they said to call the Health Care Financing Administration(HCFA). Then when I talked to HCFA, they said the RRB is responsible.

Answer: Actually, both the RRB and HCFA play important roles in the Medicare program as it relates to Railroad Retirement beneficiaries.

HCFA is the "lead" federal agency for Medicare. It sets overall policy for the program, selects the private insurance companies who actually pay Medicare benefits, and monitors and evaluates the performance of the various public and private organizations participating in the program.

The Medicare program for Railroad Retirement is similar to the program for Social Security and Civil Service recipients, with the following important differences:

  1. The RRB--not SSA--determines the eligibility of Railroad Retirees to participate in the program.

  2. The RRB--not SSA or the Office of Personnel Management--collects the monthly premiums for the Medical Insurance portion (Part "B"). This is true even when the railroad retiree also receives Social Security benefits or Civil Service benefits.

  3. The RRB pays for certain Hospital Insurance ("Part A") benefits for services in Canada.

  4. The RRB--not HCFA--selects the nationwide private insurance company that pays "Part B" benefits to Railroad Retirement beneficiaries. For many years, The Travelers Insurance Company and its health insurance successor, Uniprise, was the contractor. Recently the RRB selected a new company,Palmetto Government Benefits Administrators LLC a subsidiary of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina, so a transition is in process.

    The RRB is responsible for servicing Railroad Retirement Beneficiaries under the Medicare program. You should call the nearest RRB office for information and answers to your questions.If you experience any problems ask to speak to the Manager or ask for the name and phone number of the Regional Director.

Important notice:

Answers are provided as general guidance on the subjects covered in the question and are not provided as legal advice to the questioner or to readers. Any legal issues should be reviewed by your legal counsel to apply the law to the particular facts of this and similar situations.

The law in this area changes frequently. Answers are believed to be correct as of the posting dates shown. The completeness or accuracy of a particular answer may be affected by changes in the law (statutes, regulations, rulings, court decisions, etc.) that occur after the date on which a particular Q&A is posted.

Copyright 1997-2017 Robert S. Kaufman
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