- You can generally keep your group plan if you or your spouse are still working.
- For most people, Part A is free.
- You can delay Part B while you are working without a penalty if you have health coverage through work.
- If you are collecting Social Security benefits when you turn 65 you will be automatically enrolled onto Medicare Parts A & B.
- To purchase a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan you need to have both Medicare Parts A and Part B.
Most people will want to start receiving benefits from Medicare when they turn 65. But, if you already have a healthcare plan through your employer and are working past age 65, it can be unclear which choice you should make. Should you stay with your employer’s insurance, or switch to Medicare?
Who Should Delay Medicare Coverage?
There are several situations in which you may think about delaying Medicare coverage. One of the most common situations is whether or not to delay Medicare Part B and keep their current coverage through work. For most people the answer is simple: if you are going to be working past age 65, and are happy with your current employer plan, then you can keep it. Special restrictions apply for things like COBRA plans, insurance under a spouse, and other conditions, and we’ll discuss these below.
Delaying Part A: Uncommon For A Reason
Part A coverage, also known as hospital insurance, is one of the fundamental pillars of Medicare. For most people, this coverage is completely free, with no premiums whatsoever. Because of this, it may seem like a no-brainer to accept this insurance, and that will be the case for most people.
However, there are a few people who may want to delay Part A coverage as well. If you are required to pay premiums for Part A and are already covered for hospital visits under your current employer, then it makes sense to delay this coverage. In addition to this, your employer’s insurance can cause complications if you have Medicare coverage on top of it. This is rare, but you should speak to your group health plan before you start Part A coverage, just to be sure.
Will I Be Penalized for Delaying Part B?
Part B coverage is delayed more commonly than Part A because there is a monthly premium for it. However, the same conditions stand as above. If you are currently covered under a group plan from your employer, and you want to keep this plan as you keep working past age 65, then you can delay Part B.
It’s important to note that usually, you will have to pay additional fees if you sign up for Medicare later than your Initial Enrollment Period. This is a 7 month period around your 65th birthday. However, if you are delaying your coverage because you are still covered under a group plan, then these no penalties will apply.
What if I’m Covered Under a COBRA Plan?
If you are covered under a COBRA plan, then you should usually choose to enroll in both parts of Medicare rather than delay. COBRA plans function differently than ordinary group plans. As we mentioned, you do not incur penalties if you delay enrollment because you have health insurance from an employer. However, this doesn’t hold for COBRA plans: if you delay enrollment and are under a COBRA plan, you may have to pay penalty fees.
I Have Tricare: Should I Delay Medicare?
If you have Tricare, the same conditions apply as for COBRA plans. Because these aren’t group plans from an employer, you may still have to pay a penalty fee when you do enroll in Medicare later on. In addition to this, delaying enrollment when you have Tricare can result in gaps in coverage later on.
I Don’t Qualify For Premium-Free Part A: Is It Worth It To Enroll?
Generally, it is recommended to enroll in Medicare Part A, even if you have to pay for it. Part A provides hospital coverage, without it, you won’t be covered at the hospital. There is no penalty for enrolling in Part A late so you can wait it out if you want. Also, you cannot buy a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan without both Medicare Parts A and B.
How Can I Delay Medicare Part B?
Some people may want to delay Part B coverage but enroll in Part A. If this is your choice, there are a few things to keep in mind as you near your 65th birthday. This will help make sure you delay Part B coverage properly.
If you have been receiving Social Security benefits for four months or longer when you turn 65, then you will be enrolled in both Part A and Part B automatically. If you don’t want to enroll in Part B coverage, then contact Social Security as soon as you can and let them know you don’t want this coverage. You will find instructions in the package you receive from Medicare a few months before you turn 65.
If you aren’t receiving Social Security benefits for four months by your 65th birthday, then you will need to directly contact Social Security to enroll for Part A. You can do this through their website, ssa.gov or by calling them directly and notifying them that you want to enroll for Part A only.
Remember, if you are covered under a group plan and delay Part B, you will not have to pay penalty fees when you enroll in Part B later on. You will have 8 months to enroll in Medicare penalty-free after you stop working, or once your employer insurance ceases, whichever comes first.
I Want to Delay Part A, Which Steps Should I Take?
It’s important to note here that there’s no way to delay Part A but enroll in Part B. If you want to delay Part A, you will have to delay Part B with it.
If you are receiving Social Security benefits four months before your 65th birthday contact SS. Let them know that you’d like to delay your coverage. If you aren’t receiving Social Security benefits for the required amount of time, then do nothing. In this situation, you’ll have to manually enroll for Medicare.
If you are covered under a group plan from your employer, you can contact Social Security to let them know. Make sure to do this whether or not you choose to enroll in Part B. This will make your eventual enrollment in Medicare easier.
Where To Go Next?
We are here to help! If you have questions feel free to call us at 800-208-4974. We will answer your questions and can go over options for Medicare Supplement Plans or Medicare Advantage plans.
This information is especially useful to know about as you enroll in Medicare for the first time. We are entirely independent of any insurance company, so we can always put your needs first
Alex Wender is the founder and CEO of Bluewave Insurance. He has been blogging about Medicare-related topics since 2010. Since then, he and his agency have helped thousands of people across the country choose the right Medicare to fit their needs.