Medicare Part B is the 2nd part of “original” Medicare. It goes along with Medicare Part A to make up the primary part of Medicare that most people age 65 and over, or disabled, have. Part B is optional, and you can delay getting Part B if you have other insurance that will continue to cover you, such as employer-sponsored insurance. The biggest thing is simply deciding when to take Medicare Part B and when to delay it.
The most common reason for delaying enrollment in Medicare Part B is because you or your spouse are still working and are covered under some type of employer-sponsored insurance. This is a perfectly legitimate reason to delay Part B, and in most cases, this is the wise choice when you plan to stay on the employer group plan.
Normally, there is a penalty for delaying Part B (if you end up signing up for it later). However, with the case of having coverage through an employer, you are exempt from this penalty. You must prove to Medicare, or typically your HR person at your place of employment will do this, that you have current coverage and that is the reason you did not sign up for Part B when first eligible. Medicare will waive the Part B late enrollment penalty.
Another major ramification that plays a part in the thinking on this topic is that Part B enrollment initiates your Medicare Supplement open enrollment period. In other words, when you sign up for Medicare Part B (whenever that is), your Medigap open enrollment period starts.
So, because there is no penalty, if you are still working and plan to stay on the employer coverage, it is advantageous NOT to sign up for Part B until you retire or leave the employer coverage. This will ensure you don’t burn up your open enrollment period without actually using it to sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan.
When you do decide to sign up for Medicare Part B, you can do so under two circumstances:
- Anytime you are still covered by the employer plan through you or your spouse’s active employment.
- During the 8 months following the month the employer plan ends or the employment ends (whichever is first).
Medicare Part B is an important part of your Medicare coverage. The important thing for you is deciding when you should enroll in it or delay enrollment until you leave your employer coverage. If you have more questions about this, you can contact us on our website at Medicare Supplement quotes.