Written by Steven Verrier

Is Medicare Mandatory at 65?

Enrollment in Medicare is entirely voluntary. You’re not required to enroll at age 65 or any other time. But when you think about it … why would you want to enroll at your earliest opportunity? 

Let’s look three reasons some Americans decide to enroll in Medicare at age 65.

  1. I currently have private health insurance.

Senior GroupThat shouldn’t deter anyone from enrolling in Medicare at age 65.

Because most Americans are eligible for retirement insurance benefits several years before they’re eligible for Medicare, many people have little choice but to enroll in private health insurance plans until they become Medicare-eligible. If you’re enrolled in a private health plan, you don’t need to cancel that plan if you enroll in Medicare, though you may choose to do so. If you decide to continue with your private insurance while enrolled in Medicare, Medicare will generally be your secondary payer, helping cover some of the costs your private insurance won’t cover.

If you have private insurance, you may choose to opt out of Medicare Part B coverage while remaining enrolled in Medicare Part A. This will allow you to save on the cost of your Part B premium, currently set at $104.90 per month for most Americans.

Apply online for Medicare today.
  1. I currently have COBRA coverage.

If you have COBRA coverage and decide to enroll in Medicare, your COBRA coverage normally will end upon your enrollment in Medicare. You may, however, be able to keep COBRA coverage for services not covered by Medicare (such as dental or vision). Even if you lose COBRA coverage due to your enrolling in Medicare, your spouse and dependent children should be eligible to maintain their COBRA coverage for up to three years.

If you have COBRA coverage, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons of enrolling in Medicare at 65. If you need help determining what you’d stand to lose and gain, call MedicareMall toll-free at (877) 413-1556.

Of course, if you’re already receiving Social Security payments, your enrollment in Medicare will be automatic and your COBRA coverage will end.

Remember, COBRA is temporary and shouldn’t be seen as a long-term alternative to Medicare.

If you receive COBRA coverage after enrolling in Medicare, you’ll almost certainly benefit from keeping your Medicare coverage, including Part B. Medicare will be your primary payer.

  1. I’m a veteran, and I have good VA medical benefits.

Yes, Veterans Affairs health benefits are very good. But VA benefits combined with Medicare coverage are even better for most people who are eligible for both.

Most veterans receiving Veterans Affairs healthcare benefits can expect to wait – sometimes for weeks at a time – for VA healthcare services. On top of that, there are limits to what the VA Benefits Package covers – and although VA health coverage doesn’t require payment of monthly premiums, there are copayments and other financial obligations associated with Veterans Affairs health benefits.

If you’re 65 with VA health benefits, enrolling in Medicare will bolster your VA coverage without reducing any of your veterans benefits.

Here are more reasons that it’s beneficial to enroll in Medicare even if you’re generally happy with your VA coverage:

  1. VA benefit funds vary from year to year. Medicare is a great backup in case of VA benefit reductions.
  2. Being covered under Medicare and the VA gives you greater flexibility when it comes to managing your healthcare.
  3. Medicare coverage doesn’t affect your VA benefits in any way, and vice versa. You will have the full coverage both programs provide.
  4. Medicare doesn’t limit you to treatment at VA facilities, thereby increasing your options greatly.
  5. Enrollment in Medicare can greatly reduce your waiting time for treatment and services.
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If you’re covered under the VA and Medicare, you don’t need to use your coverage under both programs. You can use one or the other exclusively, if you wish. If you’re generally happy with your VA coverage and don’t want to pay out any monthly premiums, you consider dropping your Medicare Part B coverage while remaining enrolled in Part A.

Remember, enrolling in Original Medicare opens up the options of enrolling in a Medicare supplement plan, a Medicare Advantage plan, or a prescription drug plan. As you face an uncertain future, chances are you’ll want to investigate every option available to maintain the best of health while keeping costs in check.

Although enrollment in Medicare isn’t mandatory at age 65 – or at any age – it works to the advantage of the vast majority of seniors to enroll in Medicare at 65. If you suspect your situation is different, give MedicareMall a call today for help determining whether that’s the case.

Is there any reason you’re considering not enrolling in Medicare at 65? Leave a comment below!

Is Medicare Mandatory at 65?© 2013 MedicareMall.com

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About The Author

Steven Verrier

Steven Verrier

Steven Verrier, born in the United States and raised in Canada, has spent much of his life living and traveling abroad. He is the author of Raising a Child to be Bilingual and Bicultural, a prizewinning book published bilingually in Japan, and several short student-market dramatic works performed at a variety of locations. His novels, Tough Love, Tender Heart and Plan B, were published in 2008 and 2010, and his nonfiction book, Class Struggle: Journal of a Teacher In Up to His Ears, raised a few eyebrows following its publication in 2011. Currently Steve is living primarily in San Antonio, Texas, though he still likes to get around. Steve has always had a lot of interests. With graduate degrees from Columbia and the University of Iowa, he’s worked as a high school teacher and a college instructor, an editor and a musician, a laborer and group home attendant, and plenty more. Among his interests are issues relating to health care and healthy living. For more information about Steven Verrier, please visit his website. | Google+