The thing you have to worry about with delaying enrollment in Medicare is the possibility of having to pay late enrollment fees. These penalties are added to your premiums, and depending on which plan you delayed enrolling in, they could make your coverage more expensive for as long as you hold coverage.
Delaying Medicare Part A
The best time to enroll in Medicare Part A is when you first become eligible. For most Medicare beneficiaries, Medicare Part A comes premium-free. That eligibility is tied to how many quarters a beneficiary or their spouse paid taxes toward Medicare.
If you don’t qualify for premium-free Part A but are eligible for Medicare benefits, you can purchase the coverage. Deciding to delay your enrollment in Part A can result in a late-enrollment penalty. This fee adds 10% to your monthly premium for each year you went without signing up after you became eligible. The penalty lasts for twice as many years as years you delayed enrolling in Part A coverage.
Delaying Medicare Part B
Medicare Part B is insurance that every Medicare beneficiary has to pay for, and covers medically necessary and preventive care services. The Part B late enrollment penalty adds 10% to your monthly premium for each 12-month period you went without signing up for Medicare once you became eligible. This penalty lasts for the lifetime of your coverage.
You may be able to delay enrollment in Medicare Part B without having to pay a late enrollment penalty if you qualify for a special enrollment period.
Special Enrollment Periods
Special enrollment periods grant people who meet certain criteria the opportunity to sign up for Medicare outside of the regular enrollment periods. You might qualify if you have a change of residence and are no longer in your Medicare plan’s coverage area. You could also qualify if you lose coverage, if your plan terminates its contract with Medicare, or for a number of other reasons.
One of the most common reasons to delay enrollment in Medicare Part B is if you have group health insurance through your employer when you become eligible for Medicare. Because you have that creditable coverage, provided your employer coverage meets the criteria, you will be able to delay enrollment in Part B without having to pay the penalty when you do sign up. You would sign up for Medicare Part B when you lose the coverage or are no longer working for the employer, whichever comes first. Once that situation applies, you have eight months to sign up for Medicare.
Medicare Part D Late Enrollment Penalties
Medicare Part D prescription drug plans charge a late enrollment penalty when you delay enrolling in a plan without having creditable drug coverage. For each month you delay enrollment after you become eligible for Medicare, Medicare Part D will add 1% to your monthly premiums.
Do you need help signing up for Medicare? Our Medicare Sharks are ready to assist you in finding the optimal coverage to suit your needs. Contact us today for more information.