Must I Sign Up for Medicare When I Turn 65?
Although most Americans become eligible for Medicare at age 65, you are under no obligation to sign up for Medicare when you turn 65.
Enrollment in Medicare is entirely voluntary. You are not required to enroll at age 65 or any other time. It is highly advisable, however, for most people to enroll in Medicare when they turn 65. Here are some of the reasons:
Signing up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period eliminates late enrollment penalties you may have to pay if you enroll in Medicare later.
These penalties include the Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty and the Medicare Part D late enrollment penalty. If you enroll in Part B or Part D at any time following your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period, you may have to pay these penalties as long as you have Part B or Part D coverage.
You may be exempt from the Part D penalty, however, if you had creditable drug coverage during the time you were eligible for Medicare Part D coverage but were not enrolled in a Part D prescription drug plan. If you enroll in Medicare after your Initial Enrollment Period and do not qualify for premium-free Part A coverage, you may also be obligated to pay a Part A late enrollment penalty.
If you let your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period pass without enrolling in Medicare, you will miss your Medigap Open Enrollment Period.
Although you will have the opportunity to apply for Medigap coverage if you enroll in Medicare after age 65, you will not have another Medigap Open Enrollment opportunity. During your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, there are no medical underwriting considerations and you are able to enroll in any Medigap plan sold in your state.
As long as you continue to pay your premiums, you can stay enrolled in that plan regardless of changes to your health. If you apply for a Medigap plan at any time after your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, however, medical underwriting will apply and you may not qualify for the plan you want. In order to apply for Medigap coverage, you must be enrolled in Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B), and unless you enroll in Original Medicare during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period, you will not have the benefit of Medigap Open Enrollment.
Medicare insurance is compatible with most other types of health insurance you may already have.
If you have private health insurance, you do not need to cancel your current plan in order to enroll in Medicare. If you are satisfied with your current private health plan and want to continue with it, enrolling in Medicare will not decrease your current health benefits. Your private plan will continue its current coverage, and Medicare will become your secondary payer. This means that Medicare will increase your coverage by helping to cover some of the costs your private plan does not cover.
If your private plan is comprehensive and you do not want to pay monthly Medicare Part B premiums, currently set at $104.90 for most people on Medicare, you can drop Part B coverage while remaining enrolled in Medicare Part A. Over 98% of Americans are not required to pay premiums for Medicare Part A.
There is no rule that says you must sign up for Medicare at age 65 – or at any age – but most people benefit by enrolling in Medicare when they first become eligible.
Remember, Medicare can go a long way toward helping you maintain your good health—if you have the experience and knowledge to take advantage of it. If you have questions about senior healthcare including Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B), Medicare supplement plans, or Medicare Advantage, contact MedicareMall now and let us save you money and lead you with confidence through the Medicare maze!