Often people are confused about when to enroll in Medicare. Let’s look at several scenarios and discuss when you should enroll in Medicare. Medicare publishes a booklet called Enrolling in Medicare Part A and B at www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11036-Enrolling-Medicare-Part-A-Part-B.pdf. It is well worth reading for the details on when you should enroll to receive the coverage you need based on your personal situation and Medicare program rules.
First, we need to consider whether you are working and covered by your own or a spouse’s employer’s group health plan, when you reach age 65 (the age when you get the first opportunity to sign up for Medicare). Let’s say you stopped working and retired at age 62. You are no longer working or covered by your own or your spouse’s employers group health plan. You began receiving Social Security retirement benefits at age 62. In this situation, you probably want to have Medicare coverage. Since you are receiving Social Security retirement checks from us, we will automatically enroll you in Medicare Part A and B. We include instructions on how to refuse Part B which requires a monthly premium.
Next, let’s say that you are working fulltime and are covered by your own or your spouse’s employer’s group health plan when you reach age 65. Since you are not receiving Social Security benefits and have health coverage through an employer plan, you need to contact us to enroll in Medicare. Three months before age 65 begins your initial enrollment period (your first opportunity to sign up for Medicare). Social Security advises people to sign up for Medicare Part A (Hospital) which does not require a monthly premium and might be a secondary payer for a hospital stay.
Next, let’s say that you waited to start Social Security retirement benefits until your full retirement age which is age 66. You waited because you knew the earnings limit was no longer in effect at full retirement age, so you could work fulltime and receive all your Social Security benefits. You signed up for Part A when you were age 65, but not Part B. You can sign up for Part B when your employer’s plan ends. Enroll one or two months before your employer’s plan ends to have a limited choice in which month Medicare Part B begins. (If you sign up after your employer’s plan ends, your Medicare B will start the next month.)
There is one other issue that people often find confusing. That is if you are contributing to your employer’s health savings account, IRS rules say that you cannot have either Part A and/or Part B and continue contributing to your health savings account. Please read page 28 of the Enrolling in Part A & B booklet (www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11036-Enrolling-Medicare-Part-A-Part-B.pdf) for health savings accounts and how they affect Medicare.
One other area that people want to understand is when you would get charged an increase in your monthly Medicare premium if you sign up late. For most people Medicare Part A (Hospital) does not require a monthly premium. That is because you paid a Medicare deduction from your wages while you worked. The only people who will pay an increased premium for Medicare Part A are those who are paying a premium for it because they did not pay the Medicare tax while they worked, and then they signed up late. So, Medicare Part A increases are not a concern for most people.
Medicare Part B does require a monthly premium and does charge a premium increase UNLESS YOU ENROLL DURING YOUR GENERAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD AT 65 OR A SPEACIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD BECAUSE YOU WERE COVERED FROM AGE 65 TO CURRENT THROUGH YOUR OWN OR YOUR SPOUSE’S EMPLOYER’S GROUP HEALTH PLAN. (See Enrolling in Medicare Part A and Part B for more details,(
Understanding when to sign up for Medicare is an important of your financial planning for the future.