Turning age 65 comes with some big milestones. For many years, this was considered to be the “full retirement age” at which you could receive your Social Security retirement income benefits. And, while many individuals today must wait until they turn 66 – or even 67 – in order to do so, 65 is still a primary target retirement age for many people.
Today, people are working longer and longer because we have longer life spans and we need more money saved for retirement. Other people just enjoy working and are not ready to give up their career yet. For whatever reasons, if you keep working past 65, it can make signing up for Medicare even more confusing than it already is.
Age 65 has always been the traditional retirement age, but today, it doesn’t necessarily mean retirement. This is also the age at which you become eligible for Medicare benefits. With so many people who are still working and covered through employer sponsored health insurance plans, though, the question often arises as to whether it is wise to go ahead and apply for Medicare, or wait until other health insurance coverage ends.
The short answer to that questions is that for most people, Medicare Part A is premium free. So, for many, it makes sense to go ahead and take advantage of this additional health care coverage.
What to Expect Going Forward
Approximately three months prior to your 65th birthday, you will receive an enrollment questionnaire from Medicare that asks whether you have any other health insurance coverage. If you will be keeping your employer sponsored plan or any other coverage that you have in place, this for will allow you to let Medicare know about it.
For those who are not receiving Social Security retirement benefits, enrolling in Medicare Part A can take place any time between three months before your 65th birthday through three months after your 65th birthday month. You may also enroll in Medicare Part B three months prior to your 65th birthday, as well as during your 65th birthday month, and three months after your 65th birthday month.
Keeping Your Current Health Insurance and Enrolling in Medicare
If you do decide to keep your current health care coverage while at the same time also enrolling in Medicare, you should determine which of your insurance plans will be considered the “primary” payer should you need to file a claim.
You can determine this by contacting your current insurance company. If you are currently insured through an employer sponsored group health insurance plan, then you should contact the benefits coordinator at your or your spouse’s employer. In addition, it is also important that you inform Medicare that you have other health insurance coverage. This is necessary since you may not need to enroll in Medicare Part B or one of the Medicare supplement plans. It also stops the timer on your Medicare Part D enrollment which adds a percentage point of cost per month that you do not enroll.
In most cases, when you have other health insurance coverage such as a group plan, the primary payor will be decided in the following manner:
- Have a retiree health insurance plan (i.e., coverage from your former employer)? Then Medicare will be the primary payer.
- If you are age 65 or older and you have a group health insurance plan based on you or your spouse’s current employment and the employer has 20 or more employees, then the group health insurance plan will pay first.
- If you are age 65 or over and have group health insurance based upon your or your spouse’s current employment and the employer has less than 20 employees, then Medicare will pay first.
- Having Medicare coverage due to having End Stage Renal Disease, then your group health insurance plan will pay first for the first 30 months after you become eligible for Medicare. Medicare will pay first following this 30-month period of time.
It can be confusing enrolling in Medicare and coming to the conclusion of what plan to pick might be difficult. Don’t go through this yourself. There are agents in our office who specialize in the Medicare insurance and are always available to help if any questions or concerns arise.
After you enroll in Medicare (whenever you enroll), you may find that the program isn’t providing the coverage that you want. There are millions of Medicare participants that want additional coverage not offered by Medicare Parts A or B. One way to get more coverage is by purchasing a Medicare Supplemental insurance policy. With these ten plans you can choose one that fits the coverage you want and a plan that fits your budget. Medigap Plan A is the most basic plan that gives the least coverage assistance, while Medigap Plan F is the most inclusive plan and covers just about all of the expenses left behind.
It’s important to note your Medigap Insurance open enrollment date, which starts when the month you turn 65 and enroll in Part B. During your open enrollment period, which lasts six months, your application won’t be denied for health reasons. Additionally, the insurance companies can’t charge you more for your coverage because of your health or any pre-existing conditions.
Start now to enroll in the plan that’s best for you, if that’s through enrolling in Medicare or by purchasing an additional Medigap policy, we are here to help. We are dedicated to making sure that you’re getting all the coverage that you need.