Can you enroll in Medicare any time after you turn 65? There’s not a simple answer because it depends on your situation.
If you didn’t enroll in Part A and Part B of Medicare, continue to work, are covered under an employer-sponsored plan, and retired later on, you can always turn on your Medicare Part A and Part B to coincide with the termination of your employer-sponsored plan. But remember, depending on the size of your employer, you may or may not be subject to any type of late enrollment penalty under Medicare.
If you’re going to continue to work and be covered under an employer-sponsored plan, you can turn on your Medicare Part A and Part B later, even before you’ve retired, as a late enrollee. Which means that in January, February, or March of any year you can enroll in Part A and Part B of Medicare, and your Part B of Medicare will then be effective July 1st of that year that you enroll.
It comes down to the situation that you’re in and the options that you have through your other coverage. If you work for an employer that had less than 20 employees, Medicare A and B would be primary for you. In other words, if you work for a small employer and do not enroll in Part A and Part B of Medicare when you turn 65 you could be penalized later when you do enroll.
If you work for an employer that has more than 20 employees, Medicare A and B would be secondary to your employer-sponsored plan. There really isn’t a disadvantage to enrolling in Part A of Medicare as it doesn’t cost anything and it’s basically a secondary insurance to your employer-sponsored plan. However, there is a premium for Part B of Medicare which is determined on your income.
Also remember, if you are covered under an employer-sponsored high deductible health plan and are making health savings account contributions, once you enroll in Medicare you are no longer able to make those HSA contributions.
Will my spouse be covered?
People who are Medicare-eligible at age 65 often find themselves in a situation where they think that they have to continue their current medical plan either as an individual or under a group plan because their spouse who has not reached age 65 yet is not Medicare-eligible yet, will not have any coverage. And that’s just not so.
Once you become Medicare-eligible your spouse has the ability to do several different things. Although they can’t come with you onto a Medicare style plan they can continue the benefits under an employer-sponsored plan through COBRA. Or if you have an individual plan, they can continue that benefit without you or your Medicare eligibility is a life event for them even if they had an individual plan or a group plan.
That life event that you have would allow them to purchase an individual plan in the marketplace even though that they’re not Medicare-eligible yet.
Is Medicare as good as my employer’s health plan?
Those that are going to continue to work would like to know if they should enroll in Medicare A and B and buy a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan or continue to be covered under their employer-sponsored plan.
There are variety of questions to ask yourself:
• What is the cost of Medicare A and B and a Medicare Advantage plan, versus the cost of the employer-sponsored plan?
• Does the employer-sponsored plan have a high deductible?
• Is the employer-sponsored plan a low co-payment plan?
• Do I have other dependents that I’m currently covering under my employer-sponsored plan that are going to continue to be covered under an employer-sponsored plan?
• Is Medicare A and B going to be primary for me based on the size of my employer?
• Would I be penalized if I didn’t enroll in part A and Part B of Medicare at age 65 when I’m first eligible?
There are a variety of factors to consider, so it’s not easy to say if your employer plan is better than Medicare. You really must look at the benefits under the plan, the cost under the plan, and dependents that may continue to need coverage.