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Most people start taking Part B at 65 when they are first eligible for Medicare. If you are collecting Social Security when you become eligible for Medicare, Part B will come automatically. If you are not collecting Social Security, you have to choose to sign up for Medicare. However, more and more people are still working at 65. Some people may have the option of keeping their employer insurance. It’s always advisable to speak with your benefits administrator before deciding to take or delay Part B.
If your company has 20 employees or more, they may offer insurance that is considered “credible” coverage under Medicare. Credible coverage is as good or better than what Medicare offers. Your employer will provide you with a certificate of credible coverage. It is essential that you verify that your employer’s coverage is “credible” before delaying Part B.
One of the most common reasons people will delay Part B and continue with employer coverage is when they have family members on their employer plan that are not Medicare eligible. By staying with their employer plan, they can continue to cover their family members while they are still working.
Some people may take Part B and still continue with their employer plan. In most cases Part B will be the primary coverage and their employer insurance will be secondary. Keep in mind, however, that once you take Part B your Medigap open enrollment election period starts and cannot be changed or restarted. Some may wonder what difference this can make. For example, if you take Part B and continue working when you decide to retire you will get a guarantee issue enrollment period. This gives you the right to purchase a Medigap policy with no medical questions and the lowest rate, however, all Medigap plans are not offered on a guarantee issue so you do not have all the options you would have during the open enrollment period. Note that the guarantee special election period begins 60 days prior to your coverage ending and ends 63 calendar days after your coverage has ended.
If you retire and take Cobra you should definitely sign up for Part B when you are eligible. Cobra is not considered credible coverage with Medicare, so you will incur any late enrollment penalties that Medicare will charge.
If you are eligible for your Tri-Care or Champ VA you must sign up for Part A and Part B to be eligible for your coverage with the VA. Veterans who do not have Tri-Care or Champ VA have the choice to sign up for Part B just like anyone else. This is a very important decision! It is highly recommended to take Part B even if you get all your Medical coverage from the VA. Should your situation change, or you cannot get to a VA facility and later decide you want Part B, you will incur all late penalties for Part B. This is 10% of the average annual premium for every year you did not take Part B and this will stay with you as long as you have Medicare. I personally know of several Veterans who ran into this issue and it is very hard for them and their families if they cannot get to a VA facility.
These are just a few situations relating to Part B and when and when not to delay it. It is very important that you research your specific situation, speak to your benefits administrator at your employer, or seek professional assistance when making these decisions.
*Medicare Insurance Specialty Group is not approved by or affiliated with a government agency.