Special Situations: Previous Employers Military Vets
If you have health insurance from a previous employer, such as your or your spouses COBRA or retiree health coverage, you need to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B when you turn 65.
If you have health benefits as a military service member or veteran, such as TRICARE or CHAMPVA, you should consult with those programs to determine when to enroll in Medicare.
Its complicated, so get all the advice you need.
Medicare processes and rules are complex and rife with exceptions if you overlook something in the enrollment rules, you may pay a high price in terms of both penalties and gaps in coverage. So you should consult with Medicare and with the benefits administrator for your employer coverage before you enroll or decide to delay enrollment.
About the author:John Rossheim is an editor and writer specializing in health care and workforce trends. His work has appeared in The Washington Post and on MSN, Monster and dozens of other websites.Read more
Should You Wait Until 65 To Sign Up For Medicare
If you wait to sign up right before your 65th birthday , you may go for months without coverage.
Initial Enrollment Period
Your Initial Enrollment Period will last for 7 months. This Initial Enrollment Period begins 3 months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends 3 months after your birthday month. If you fail to enroll before your birthday month, your coverage will be delayed by a month or more.
General Enrollment Period
Youll have the option to sign up during the General Enrollment Period which falls between January 1 and March 31 every year if you didnt sign up during the Initial Enrollment Period. But youll potentially be charged a late enrollment penalty. Your premiums for Part B will be permanently increased by 10% for each year that you neglected to sign up for Part B and your monthly premiums for Part A will temporarily increase by 10%. As a rule, most people dont pay premiums for Part A, but then again, most people dont delay signing up for Part A. Your coverage will start on July 1, three months after the General Enrollment Period ends.
You may be able to avoid the late enrollment penalty and having to wait for the General Enrollment Period if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
Special Enrollment Period
Its important to check with your insurer or HR department to make sure that your coverage is sufficient to postpone Medicare enrollment.
When You Still Have Health Coverage At 65
If you’re still working by the time you turn 65, and your employer offers health insurance, you don’t need to sign up for Medicare at that time — and you don’t have to worry about the aforementioned Part B penalty, either. As long as your company employs 20 people or more, you can hold off on Medicare and stay on your company’s group plan for as long as it remains available to you.
That said, you might as well sign up for Medicare Part A because doing so won’t cost you anything. Even if you have health coverage through your employer, it can act as a secondary form of insurance in case you need it. However, if you’re eligible for a health savings account and intend to take advantage of one, you’ll want to hold off on enrolling even in Part A.
So what happens once your group health coverage runs out, either because your company stops offering it or you stop working there? At that point, you’ll get a special enrollment window to sign up for Medicare that will last for eight months. As long as you enroll during that time, you’ll get the coverage you need without having to worry about penalties.
Incidentally, the same rules apply if you’re married and are covered through your spouse’s group health plan. It doesn’t matter that you’re not the one who’s actually working.
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Why Are You Forced Into Medicare
If you or your spouse worked for at least 10 years in a job where Medicare taxes were withheld , you’ll become automatically eligible for Medicare once you turn 65.
Recent immigrants are not eligible for Medicare, but once they’ve been legal permanent residents for five years and are at least 65, they have the option to purchase Medicare coverageas opposed to getting Medicare Part A for freewhich is the same option available to long-term U.S. residents who, for one reason or another, don’t have a work history that gives them access to premium-free Medicare Part A . Note that immigrants who go on to work for at least 10 years in the US do then become eligible for premium-free Part A Medicare if they’re 65 or older, just like anyone else who has paid into the Medicare system for at least a decade.
Once you become eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A, you have to enroll in Medicare Part A or you forfeit your Social Security benefits. Most individuals are unwilling to forfeit their Social Security benefits, and thus accept the enrollment into Medicare. Note that you’re only required to accept Medicare Part Awhich is premium-free if you’re receiving Social Security benefitsin order to retain your Social Security benefits. You are allowed to reject Medicare Part Bwhich has a premiumif you choose to do so, although you could be subject to a late enrollment penalty if you choose to enroll in Part B at a later date. .
How Do I Sign Up For A Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan
You can do this in the same way as with a Medicare Advantage plan just enter your zip code in the box on this page to get started. Make sure you click the Medicare Part D plans tab.
Be aware that if you dont sign up for a Medicare prescription drug plan when youre first eligible, you could face a Part D late enrollment penalty if you sign up later. Remember, a Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan can give you this coverage. To avoid the penalty, either:
- Sign up for Medicare prescription drug coverage during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period
- Make sure you have creditable prescription drug coverage through another source. Creditable coverage means a plan that pays at least as well as Medicares standard prescription drug coverage.
Without creditable coverage, you may pay a late enrollment penalty with your monthly Part D premium. This may occur if you go without coverage for more than 63 days in a row after your Initial Enrollment Period.
When Should I Sign Up For Medicare
Generally, we advise people to file for Medicare benefits 3 months before age 65. Remember, Medicare benefits can begin no earlier than age 65. If you are already receiving Social Security, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B without an additional application. However, because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you have the option of turning it down. You will receive a Medicare card about two months before age 65. If you would like to file for Medicare only, you can apply by calling 1-800-772-1213. Our representatives there can make an appointment for you at any convenient Social Security office and advise you what to bring with you. When you apply for Medicare, we often also take an application for monthly benefits. You can apply for retirement benefits online.
If you didnt sign up when you were first eligible for Medicare, you can sign up during the General Enrollment Period between January 1 and March 31 each year, unless you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.
When Do I Apply For Other Kinds Of Medicare Coverage
Are you thinking about signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan, or a Medicare Supplement insurance plan?
No matter what type of Medicare coverage you want, youll generally want to start by signing up for Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. Then, its usually a good idea to sign up for any other type of Medicare coverage you want, promptly.
Heres a quick rundown on the main Medicare coverage options you have besides Original Medicare and when to sign up.
- Medicare Advantage this program gives you an alternative way to get your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits . You need Part A and Part B to qualify, and then the plan manages those benefits for you. If you dont enroll during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period , you might have to wait to sign up. Learn about Medicare Advantage enrollment periods.
- Stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan you might want this type of plan if you need prescription drug coverage. You need Part A or Part B to qualify. If you dont enroll during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period , you might have to wait to sign up. Learn about Medicare Part D enrollment periods.
Be aware that if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, it might include prescription drug coverage, so you wouldnt need a stand-alone plan. In fact, you generally cant have both a Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan and a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan.
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Signing Up For Premium
You can sign up for Part A any time after you turn 65. Your Part A coverage starts 6 months back from when you sign up or when you apply for benefits from Social Security . Coverage cant start earlier than the month you turned 65.
After your Initial Enrollment Period ends, you can only sign up for Part B and Premium-Part A during one of the other enrollment periods.
Special Enrollment Period For Parts A And B
Some people with health care coverage through their job or union, or through their spouse’s job or union, wait to sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Part B . If you or your spouse are actively working for an employer with more than 20 employees when you turn 65, you can get a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Parts A and/or B:
- Any time you’re still covered by the employer or union group health plan through you or your spouses current employment or
- During the eight months following the month the employer or union group health plan coverage ends, or when the employment ends .
If you delay enrolling even longer, you may have to wait for coverage and you may pay a lifetime late enrollment penalty surcharge on your Medicare premiums.
If you’re under age 65, and eligible for Medicare because you’re disabled and working , the SEP rules also apply to you as long as the employer has more than 100 employees.
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Enrolling In Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs. You can add a stand-alone prescription drug plan to augment your Medicare A and B, or you can choose a Medicare Advantage plan that provides all of the benefits of Medicare A and B, plus prescription drugs and often other benefits as well.
Youre first eligible to enroll in Part D when youre first eligible for Medicare. When you apply, you will enroll in a private plan and must enroll during a seven-month period that starts three months prior to the month that you reach age 65. If you dont enroll during this period, you may pay a late-enrollment penalty that will raise your Part D premium when you do decide to purchase coverage .
If youre Medicare-eligible because youre disabled AND youve reached age 65, you can enroll in a Part D plan, switch Part D plans, or drop your Part D plan during this seven-month period.
If youre newly eligible because youre disabled, you can enroll starting 21 months after you began receiving RRB or Social Security benefits and have through the 27th month to enroll. Your Part D coverage will start at the beginning of your 25th month of receiving RRB or Social Security benefits.
If you dont have Part A and enroll in Part B during the Part B General Enrollment Period, you can enroll in Part D between April 1 and June 30. Or, if you have Part A coverage and then enroll in Part B during the Part B General Enrollment Period, you can enroll in Part D between April 1 and June 30.
Options For Employees With Large Employer Coverage
The first, and possibly the most favored option is delaying Medicare enrollment. The reason you can do this is that your employee group plan acts as your creditable coverage. When you have , you are able to delay signing up for Medicare until you lose that creditable coverage.
There are no penalties because your employer coverage is primary, and Medicare is secondary. Many people enroll in Part A and delay Parts B and D until they retire.
However, you may not want to delay Medicare. Your answer to the fourth and final question will help you determine whether you want to enroll in Medicare and let it coordinate with your employer coverage or delay Medicare to save yourself from paying unnecessary Part B and D premiums while you are still working.
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Review Options Available In Your County
Different health plans are available based on the county where you live. If you already have Medicaid, youve been in touch with a county worker who helps you with your plan. As you approach your 65th birthday, your county worker will provide you with a list of options so you can choose the right plan for your needs.
Your options at age 65 include plans called Minnesota Senior Care Plus or Minnesota Senior Health Options .
- Determine if you are dual eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. If you are, a plan that combines the services of both programs may be a good choice for you. You dont need to worry about coordinating coverage between both programs and can have it all in one.
- Understand whats covered in each plan type
- Compare MSHO vs. MSC+ plans to decide which plan is best for you
Your First Chance To Sign Up
Generally, when you turn 65. This is called your Initial Enrollment Period. It lasts for 7 months, starting 3 months before you turn 65, and ending 3 months after the month you turn 65.
Avoid the penaltyIf you miss your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period, you may have to wait to sign up and pay a monthly late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. The penalty goes up the longer you wait. You may also have to pay a penalty if you have to pay a Part A premium, also called Premium-Part A.
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Is It Mandatory To Sign Up For Medicare At Age 65
May 28, 2021 By Danielle Kunkle Roberts
Many people who are still working wonder whether it is mandatory to at age 65. Not knowing the proper answer could cost you, literally. So, is it mandatory to sign up for Medicare at age 65?
It is mandatory to sign up for Medicare Part A once you enroll in Social Security. The two are permanently linked. However, Medicare Parts B, C, and D are optional and you can delay enrollment if you have creditable coverage.
Sothe straightest answer I can give you is yes and no. Heres why:
Your specific circumstances affect the answer to the Medicare at 65 question. In order to discover a more precise answer for this question for YOU, you will need to answer some questions.
The answers to these questions will ultimately determine your personal answer for that frustrating question Is it mandatory to sign up for Medicare at age 65?
Learn Medicare for Free: Enroll in 6-Day Medicare Mini Course
The Cost Equation: Will Medicare Save You Money
If your employer requires you to pay a large portion of the premium on your group health insurance, you may find Medicare cheaper and the coverage adequate. So compare your current coverage and out-of-pocket expenses including premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance with your costs and benefits under Medicare, which may also pay some expenses not covered by your group plan.
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Ask These Questions Before You Delay Medicare
Whether or not you can delay Medicare past 65 when youre working really depends on a few simple questions.
1. Do you have employer health coverage?
2. Does your employer have 20 or more employees?
3. Is the coverage considered creditable?
If you can answer Yes! to all the above, you likely qualify for a Medicare Special Enrollment Period and can delay enrolling without penalty. Whats the next step? and information sent directly to your inbox.
How To Apply For Medicare
Medicare enrollment is easier than ever. Once you meet eligibility requirements, you are ready to choose from a variety of plans in which to enroll. As we mentioned earlier, some beneficiaries can receive automatic enrollment, and some have to apply manually.
There are three ways to apply for Medicare Part A and Part B:
If you have previously been a railroad employee, you can enroll in Medicare by contacting the Railroad Retirement Board, Monday Friday, from 9:00 AM 3:30 PM at 1-877-772-5772.
Medicare applications generally take between 30-60 days to obtain approval.
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