There are a lot of decisions that you have to make with Medicare. There are several different parts and options for your coverage. When you get close to age 65, it’s important that you start doing your research to make the best decision for your health care coverage.
For those who are contemplating whether or not they should purchase Medicare Part B coverage, as well as when to do so, there are some important considerations that may help you in deciding if this coverage will be right for you.
Employer or Union Health Insurance Coverage
If you or your spouse is still actively employed and you are covered by a health insurance policy via the employer or the union, then it is a good idea to speak with your HR or union benefits representative in determining how this coverage will work with Medicare. In some cases, it may work best to delay your enrollment in Medicare Part B. If you opt to delay your Medicare Part B enrollment, you will not be required to pay a penalty as you are currently covered by insurance based on current employment.
When the time comes that either the employment or the insurance coverage ends – whichever occurs first – three things will typically happen:
- First, you will have 8 months in which to enroll in Medicare Part B coverage without paying a penalty. If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during this time, you may be fined once you actually enroll and you will not likely be able to enroll until the next General Enrollment Period, meaning that you must wait until July 1st of that year for your coverage to begin. With this in mind, you could have a gap in your health care coverage.
- You may be able to obtain COBRA. This insurance continues your employers health insurance coverage for up to 18 months. Typically, this coverage costs more than your employer or union sponsored coverage did, although the benefits are the same.
- When you enroll in Part B, your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period starts.
If you have Medicare Part A coverage and TRICARE, which is insurance for active duty military personnel, military retirees, and their families, you must enroll in Part B in order to maintain your TRICARE coverage. If, however, you are an active duty service member, or the spouse or dependent child of one, you are not required to enroll in Medicare Part B in order to maintain your TRICARE while the service member is on active duty.
In addition, prior to the time that the active duty service member takes retirement, it is important for you to enroll in Medicare Part B in order to keep your TRICARE so as not to have a gap in your health care coverage.
You can enroll for coverage during a Special Enrollment Period if you already have Medicare due to a disability, or because you are already age 65 or older. It is also important that you enroll in Medicare Parts A and B when you are initially eligible to do so based upon a diagnosis of End Stage Renal Disease.
If you miss your initial enrollment date, and you don’t fall under one of the legal exemptions, you could be facing serious fees for not enrolling on time. You don’t want to delay enrolling because that 10% penalty is added every year you postpone enrollment.
Because there are many different dates to keep track of, it is essential to have a good understanding of when you can and cannot enroll in Medicare Part B so as not to lose access to this important coverage.
If you enroll in Part B, and realize that you would like more health care coverage that both Parts A and B provide, there are several options. One of the best options for filling in the holes left by Medicare Parts A and B is to purchase a Medigap policy. Private insurance companies sell these policies and they are great tools for anyone that wants more coverage for their health care.
Medicare Supplement plans are geared to cover extra stuff that original A & B don’t cover. There are 10 of these plans. Medicare Plan A being the most basic, leaving more expenses that you would have to pay for out-of-pocket, while Medigap Plan F is the most extensive and covers everything that Medicare doesn’t pay for.
As we mentioned earlier, once you enroll in Part B, your Medicare Supplemental Open Enrollment period begins. For anyone that is looking to get additional coverage that isn’t provided by Medicare, they will want to take advantage of this open enrollment date. Make sure to enroll during your open period because you cannot be declined coverage. For a lot of Medicare enrollees, this open enrollment period will be their own chance to get one of these policies. After the six-month enrollment period, their application will be treated like any other insurance application.