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When Can You Delay Taking Medicare?

You are generally eligible for Medicare when you are 65. You might not want to enroll if you are working full time for a larger employer or contributing to a health savings account. However, there can be penalties if you don’t sign up at the right time. It is important to know when you can delay signing up for Medicare without facing a penalty.

Most people enroll in Medicare during the Initial Enrollment Period (a seven-month period surrounding your 65th birthday.) If you do not sign up for Medicare Part B [covers doctors] during this period, your Part B premium may go up 10 percent for each 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but did not take it. Your Medicare Part D [drug coverage] premium will increase at least 1 percent for every month you wait. There is an exception to these penalties for some people who are still working.

When companies have 20 or more employees, you can usually delay signing up for Medicare Part B without penalty because your employer’s insurance will be considered the primary insurer. However, if your employer has fewer than 20 employees, you should sign up for Medicare Part B when you are first eligible or face penalties.  Check with your employer to make sure your current insurer will expect Medicare to be your primary insurer.

If you have employer or private insurance, you may be able to delay Medicare Part D and avoid penalties, if the insurance is at least as good as Medicare’s, known as “creditable coverage. Your insurer should let you know if their coverage will be considered creditable.  You may also be able to avoid or delay getting Part D if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers prescription drug coverage.

If you are working, you generally can enroll in Medicare Part A, which is generally free, without consequences. However, if you are contributing to a health savings account (HSA) at work, you cannot sign up for Medicare even if your employer has fewer than 20 employees. Part A covers care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, and certain care given by home health agencies and hospices. You will need to analyze whether the HSA is worth losing out on the Medicare Part A coverage. If you are already receiving Social Security, you will be automatically enrolled in Part A, so you will have to stop contributing to the HSA.

For more information about Medicare, go to: https://www.fl-elderlaw.com/long-term-care-medicaid-planning/

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