Working at 65 – Should I Get Part B?
This is the first blog post in the Working at 65 series, which aims to educate those who are 65 or turning 65 and continuing to work. But as always, we recommend contacting a licensed agent at Plan Medicare to go over your individual situation and make sure you are getting the best possible coverage.
If you are one of the many people who are turning 65 and continuing to work, it’s important that you take the time to understand your health insurance options, to avoid penalties associated with delayed Medicare Part B enrollment.
If you or your spouse are still working and have insurance coverage through your employer or union, you should contact the head of HR to understand exactly how your coverage works with Medicare. This does not include military service (unless on active duty), but does include federal and state employment. In general, you can sign up for Part B without a penalty, anytime, as long as you have health coverage based on current employment. It’s very important to note that this does not include COBRA nor does it include Retiree Health coverage.
When your employer or union coverage ends, you have 8 months to sign up for Part B, without penalty. This goes for people who choose to get COBRA coverage and for those who do not choose to get COBRA coverage. (More on COBRA coveraget to come in a subsequent article). To sign up for Part B, while you are employed, or during the 8 months after employment ends, contact a licensed agent at Plan Medicare and they can enroll you right away. If you do not enroll in Part B during the 8 months after employment ends, you may have to pay a penalty for as long as you have Part B. That adds up! It’s not just a one time penalty fee, it’s an on-going cost that gets very expensive. In addition, if you wait too long, outside of the 8 month period, you won’t be able to enroll until Jan 1 – March 31st, and your coverage won’t begin until July 1st, which could lead to as long as a 6 month gap in coverage.
If you already have COBRA coverage when you enroll in Medicare, it’s wise to plan ahead, since your COBRA coverage will most likely run out. Also, Medicare could potentially be more cost beneficial to you than paying COBRA (which can be very expensive). And if you become eligible for COBRA after you’ve already enrolled in Medicare, you can switch over to COBRA, but it will always come second to Medicare being primary.
Stay tuned for more articles and helpful info in the next Working at 65 post.