Can I Delay Medicare Part B Without Paying a Penalty?

Can I delay Medicare Part B without paying extra? When should I sign up for Medicare? Is Medicare enrollment automatic when I turn 65? What happens if I postpone Medicare enrollment? best medicare supplement plan F


Can I delay Medicare Part B?

Most people will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B when they turn 65. And most will receive Part A at no charge, while Medicare Part B requires a monthly premium.

If you do not have health insurance now, and are turning age 65, you should take advantage of your opportunity to enroll in both parts of Medicare.

Your initial enrollment period begins 3 months before you turn 65 and ends 3 months after the month of your 65th birthday. If you fail to enroll in both parts of Medicare you may be subject to a late enrollment penalty.

If you miss your initial enrollment period you may enroll in Medicare under the general enrollment rules. General enrollment begins January 1 and ends on March 31 of each calendar year. Your Medicare coverage would begin on July 1 of the year when you enroll in the general enrollment period.

You may choose to delay Medicare Part B and enroll during a special enrollment period. If you or your spouse is actively employed and covered under an employer group health plan, you may delay enrollment without penalty. Your 8 month special enrollment period begins when your group coverage ends


Is Medicare enrollment automatic at age 65?

For most people, the Medicare enrollment process is automatic. About 3 months before you turn 65 you should receive a “Welcome to Medicare” packet along with your Medicare cards. If you decide to delay Medicare Part B (or Part A) you should contact the Social Security Administration. Delaying Part A means you will also delay receiving Social Security so think twice before postponing your Medicare Part A.


Postpone enrollment in Medicare Part B

If you are covered under an employer group health plan and wish to delay Medicare Part B you should notify Social Security. You also need to make a note to contact Social Security at least 60 days before you plan on leaving your employer group health plan and tell them to begin your Medicare Part B benefits.


Purchasing Medicare supplement coverage

Medicare covers less than 80% of your medical costs and most people will purchase a Medigap plan to fill the holes in Medicare. You must have Medicare Part A and Part B in place before you can purchase a supplement plan.

With over 170 different Medigap plans in Georgia, how do you find the right one?

Bob Vineyard at Georgia Medicare Plans can explain your Medicare rights and help you understand your choices in a 15 minute phone conversation. Feel free to call or email.

If you want to shop and compare plans on your own, we make that option available as well.

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Medicare COBRA Trap

COBRA Medicare money trapThe Medicare COBRA trap is catching many seniors off guard and costing them delays in Part B coverage and penalties. Due to the recession, more Americans are working longer including past age 65. Some of those opted for COBRA (for different reasons) once employment stopped. I suspect many did so because of a non-working spouse under age 65 even though they were 65 or older.

Even though COBRA has been around for over a quarter of a century, most people do not understand their COBRA rights. They believe COBRA is only available to family members if the former employee ALSO elects COBRA.

In reality, every covered family member have COBRA rights separate from the other. A non-working spouse or child can exercise their own COBRA rights even if the former employee does not.

This confusion plus the recession has led to problems when the age 65+ COBRA participant enrolls in Medicare once COBRA ends.

Under current law, working Americans with employer health coverage can postpone signing up for Medicare until after 65. When they retire, accept a buyout or are laid off, they then get an eight-month special enrollment period to sign up for Medicare Part B (which covers doctors visits and other outpatient services) immediately and without penalty.

But many people in these circumstances are able to extend their employer coverage for a year or two under a 1986 law known as COBRA, which is what Bregar did.

What they may not realize is that waiting until their COBRA coverage expires to enroll in Part B disqualifies them from the eight-month grace period. Instead, they must wait to sign up during open enrollment, from Jan. 1 to March 31 each year, and their coverage won’t begin until the following July. They also get hit with a late penalty, an extra charge added permanently to their Part B premiums.


This COBRA trap will catch you off guard if you do not know about it, triggering an LEP (late enrollment penalty) from Medicare.

You can avoid the penalty and delay by enrolling in Medicare Part A and B when you turn 65.

the crucial Medicare regulation barring a special enrollment period for people whose COBRA coverage is ending is rarely publicized. It is not mentioned in the Department of Labor’s guidance for people considering COBRA. It is mentioned briefly on page 24 of the official handbook, “Medicare & You 2010”—but without any warning of a delay in Part B coverage. It isn’t included in Social Security’s general website information on enrolling in Medicare or in its frequently-asked-questions section—though entering “COBRA” into the site’s search engine leads to an explanation.

This is a real problem that was never anticipated when COBRA laws were written.

In all fairness, Congress never anticipated a president worse than Jimmy Carter that would contribute to the longest and deepest recession in history, second only to the Great Depression . . . but not by much.

Avoid the COBRA Medicare trap.

When you are ready for Medicare, let the experts at Georgia Medicare Plans help you find affordable Medicare supplement rates to fit your budget. Compare plans and rates from Blue Cross, Mutual of Omaha, Humana and others instantly online.