More Medicare Information to think about.

More Medicare Information to think about.

So, we know that at age 65 you can enroll in Medicare, but do you have to? It is not a question we ever thought anyone would ask, however we recently read an advice column in the newspaper where a reader asked just that.

Well, do you have to take Medicare? The answer is no, but it’s not that simple.

First, let’s review again that parts that make up Medicare. Part A (hospital insurance) cover inpatient hospital stays and has already been paid for by the Medicare payroll tax deduction from your paycheck while you were working, so there is no premium or cost for that. Part B (Medical Insurance) does have a premium and covers doctor’s visits, lab tests and most other expenses not covered by Part A. The 2013 monthly premium for Medicare Part B is currently $104.90 (for most people, higher income enrollees may pay more, see www.medicare.gov for more information).

Part A and Part B are the two main components of Medicare. Part C is the Medicare Advantage program, where you select a Medicare HMO (this could be an entire post in itself, visit www.medicare.gov for your info). Part D is your prescription drug coverage.

Okay, back to the question at hand- do you have to enroll in Medicare? If you are receiving Social Security, you will be sent a Medicare Enrollment Package before your 65th birthday. You will be automatically enrolled in both A and B, unless when you receive your packet you contact Medicare to turn down Part B, they give you this option since Part B will cost you a monthly premium. They assume you’ll want Part A since you’ve technically already paid for it through the payroll tax. But before you turn down Part B you should review your current insurance coverage.

In the advice column referenced in the beginning of the post, the writer of the question was asking because they have a insurance through their former employer. However, you should not assume that your employers coverage does not change when you become Medicare eligible or that the company might prefer you switch to Medicare. Often the plan that covered you under your employer will end when you become Medicare eligible but they can offer you a supplemental plan. Because, the other thing to remember about Medicare is that you’ll have a 20% copay and a supplemental plan (also called a Medigap plan) can help to cover that.

One more caution if you chose to turn down Medicare Part B, should you later decide you want it, you can still apply, but you’ll have to wait until the next enrollment period and you’ll face a 10% penalty each month once you enroll.

You don’t have to take Medicare, but you probably should.

Visit wwww.medicare.gov for more info.

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