I Am Turning 65: Can I Keep My Health Insurance?
You may have heard about health insurance for the aged and those on disability, also known as Medicare, but are still unclear exactly how it all works. (Click here for basic information and an overview of Medicare) You are at the point where you have to make a decision regarding your health insurance plan; can you keep your current health insurance or should you enroll in Medicare?
The answer to that question is, it depends on your situation. If you are currently receiving Social Security retirement or Railroad retirement benefits you will receive a packet in the mail three months prior to the month of your 65th birthday. You will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B with no action on your part. You still have the option to decline your Part B benefits. If you are not receiving either of the above named retirement benefits you will not be automatically enrolled in Medicare benefits. You will need to contact your local Social Security office to begin your enrollment process. To find your local Social Security office, call the Social Security Hotline at 1-800-772-1213. If you are eligible to enroll in Medicare you have to do so within a seven-month period. (three months prior, the month of and three months after the month of your 65th birthday)
If you or your spouse are turning 65 and still working and have health insurance coverage through your employer you may delay enrollment in Medicare Part B, but still enroll in Part A (which for most people is free). To decide if this is the right option for you, talk with the benefits coordinator at your place of employment. If the benefits your employer offers will be primary to Medicare (the company you work for has more than twenty employees) you do not need to enroll in Part B if you are satisfied with your current coverage. If your current benefits will be secondary (the company you work for has fewer than twenty employees) you may still want to enroll in Parts A and B when you first become eligible. Also, some health plans may automatically convert into a private Medicare health plan when you turn 65. If you qualify to delay your enrollment in Medicare Part B and you choose to do so, you can enroll in Medicare without penalty at any time while you still have your group health insurance coverage. You are also eligible to enroll for up to eight months after you or your spouse stop working or you/they loose group health insurance coverage, whichever happens first.
Unless you have insurance through your employer and fall into this special category you will be penalized for not enrolling in Medicare Part B. You will be accessed a 10% Part B premium penalty for each twelve-month period you delay enrollment in Medicare Part B. So, if you delay enrollment for three years the penalty would be 30% more Medicare Part B premium each month, five years would be 50% more and so on. In the case of enrolling at age 65 or older, you will have to pay that penalty every month as long as you have Medicare. If you or your spouse do not have coverage through your employer, enroll in Medicare Part B to avoid this late enrollment penalty.
To learn more about Medicare and your health insurance options, please call us at 1-888-803-3537.