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Medicare, what you need to know if you are planning to work past age 65.

I am often asked, “Does a person need to enroll in Medicare Part A & B if they plan to continue to work after turning 65?” The answer is, “It depends.” As found on page 24 in the 2017 Medicare and You handbook, “If you or your spouse is still working and you have health coverage through that employer or union, contact your employer or union benefits administrator to find out how your coverage works with Medicare.”

What this means is if you or your spouse’s employer is the primary payer and Medicare is the secondary payer (meaning Medicare pays after the employee insurance has paid) you will not have to sign up for Part B. In most cases, if the employer employs more than 20 people, the employee plan will be the primary payee. If on the other hand, the employer has fewer than 20 people, Medicare will be the primary payee and you will need to sign up for Part B. If Medicare is the primary payer and you choose not to sign up at this time, you will have no primary insurance and that is like having no insurance. If you delay your enrollment, it can result in financial penalties and/or delays in Medicare coverage. This is why you need to ask.

If you do not take Part B at this time, you will have a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) that starts when you retire and lasts for eight months. Once you are ready to retire, you should contact Social Security at least three months in advance of your retirement date to make an appointment to sign up.

If you and/or your spouse are both over 65 and decide to drop your employee plan to enroll in Medicare because you think it is less expensive, here are a few things to keep in mind.

• You both need to sign up for Part A & B and you will each pay $134 a month for Part B. This is the 2017 rate.

• To cover the gaps in Original Medicare each of you will have to purchase a separate Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Supplement Plan, along with a Part D drug plan. It should be noted that many people are under the impression that if they are not taking any prescription medications they do not need to enroll in a prescription drug plan. Just like Medicare Part B, if you delay your enrollment in a Part D prescription drug plan, you will face a late enrollment penalty when you enroll at a later date. In addition, you will only be allowed to enroll in a drug plan between October 15 and December 7 and your plan will not start until January 1 of the following year.

• In many cases, you will find prescription drugs more expensive once you leave your employer’s drug plan and make the transition to Medicare and a Part D Prescription Drug Plan.

You need to compare all costs between your employer’s plan and Medicare before you decide to drop your employer’s coverage in favor of Medicare.

Also, please remember that COBRA and retiree insurance are not considered creditable coverage.

Your Questions and concerns are my business

As you can see, there are many things to consider when deciding to sign up for Medicare Part B when you plan to continue to work past age 65. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or need clarification on any Medicare subject.

Remember there is never a fee for my services and you are under no obligation to use them.

Medicare Explained in Plain English

Medicare: Ten Questions You Should be Asking