Medicare Part B – the Pluses and Perils

U.S. citizens who qualify for Medicare (most Americans) can sign up starting three months before their 65th birthday.

If an individual is already receiving Social Security benefits at age 65 years, s/he is automatically signed up for Medicare Parts A and B. However, since full retirement age for those born between 1943 and 1954 is age 66 years, unless you chose to start Social Security benefits early (between age 62 and 66), signing up for Medicare at age 65 years requires some definite action. Medicare Part A, which is basically hospital benefits, is available at no cost. Medicare Part B, which pays for doctor visits and other outpatient care, requires a monthly premium. Recipients have the option of turning it down, but 99% of Americans don’t.

Since Part B has a premium associated with coverage, many people think that they will wait until they are retired to start using Medicare. Since many people do not stop working at age 65 or before, it is likely that someone would have coverage through an employer. The important part of this analysis is whether it is considered group coverage, in which case it would be considered “creditable coverage” by the Social Security Administration, and no penalty would be assessed for changing one’s mind and accepting Medicare Part B at a later date.

However, if an individual buying his/hers own individual coverage, s/he will be subject to a penalty if s/he later decides s/he wants Medicare Part B. The Part B premium would rise 10 percent for each 12-month period that s/he could have had Medicare Part B, but did not take it.

For more go to: Elder Law Answers

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