If you are eligible for Medicare and still working, signing up for Medicare may be on your mind. But your individual circumstances determine how you should approach signing up for Medicare.
Should you sign up for Part A only or should you get Parts A and B? And what about Part D? Should you enroll even if you have prescription drug coverage at work?
These are all valid questions and there is not one answer that fits all circumstances. The type of group health insurance you have, the size of your employer and the type of prescription coverage you currently have all play a part in determining which is the best course of action.
The following Medicare sign-up tips will sort out some of the issues that you should consider and will allow you to make a more informed choice about your Medicare options.
What about Medicare Part A?
If you are eligible for Medicare and still working you should sign up for Medicare Part A. Even if you have insurance through your employer or union, Medicare Part A may cover some of your medical costs. As long as you have worked at least 40 quarters over your lifetime you will not have to pay a premium for Medicare Part A.
About the only time you should not consider enrolling in Part A is if you are still working and insured through your employer or union and have not worked 40 quarters. In this case, if your insurance coverage is adequate you may want to postpone enrolling in Part A until you have either accrued 40 quarters of work or until you retire.
Should I sign up for Medicare Part B?
This question is best answered by examining your individual situation. If you have adequate coverage through your (or your spouses) group insurance, you may want to postpone enrolling in Part B. Part B requires that you pay a monthly premium. The monthly premium for 2012 is $99.90 for most people and more for those people with higher incomes.
Not only is Part B costly, but you may be duplicating coverage with little benefit. If you work for a company with more than 20 employees, the group policy is the primary payer.
If you work for an employer with less than 20 employees, Part B is the primary payer. If the later is the case you may want to speak with your Human Resources department or benefits department to get their input as to whether or not enrolling in Part B would be beneficial.
Another big concern about enrolling in Part B before you really have to is your Medigap open enrollment period. During your Medigap open enrollment period insurance companies cannot use medical underwriting as a reason not to sell you a policy. Your open enrollment period begins on the first day of the month you are both 65 or older and enroll in Part B. The enrollment period lasts for 6 months.
Enrolling in Part B too soon could:
- Cost you money needlessly
- Duplicate your current coverage
- Disadvantage you by wasting your Medigap open enrollment period.
Should I enroll in Medicare Part D?
If you have insurance through your employer or union, you more than likely have prescription drug coverage. The key to whether or not you should enroll in Part D when you are first eligible is whether or not your prescription drug insurance is deemed to be creditable coverage by Medicare.
Your employer can tell you if your coverage is deemed to be creditable. If it is creditable and you feel your coverage is adequate you may want to hold off on enrolling in Part D to save money on Part D premiums.
If, on the other hand, your coverage is not considered creditable, you should enroll in a Part D plan to gain better coverage and eliminate any possibility of paying a late enrollment penalty. If your coverage is creditable you will not be subject to a late enrollment penalty when you give up your employer or union coverage.
These Medicare sign-up tips reinforce the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all answer as to whether or not working seniors should sign up for Medicare. Certainly, if you are Medicare eligible and still working without group insurance coverage, you should enroll in Medicare, but if you’re still working, you should consider your situation carefully.