by Barbara Nevins Taylor
This is one of those things you probably don’t want to hear if your 65th birthday has come and gone you and haven’t yet signed up for Medicare Part B.
It seems misunderstandings about Medicare Part B lead many Baby Boomers to make costly mistakes.
And unfortunately, there are big consequences if you don’t sign up for Part B when you turn 65.
It’s true that many of us are still at work, or are covered by employer, union, or a spouses’s health insurance.
If you’re still working and have health insurance, great. You don’t have to sign up for Part B immediately. But if you are not working, there are penalties when you don’t sign up shortly after your 65th birthday.
Joe Baker of the Medicare Rights Center says, “If you don’t enroll in Medicare when you turn 65, the month of your 65th birthday or three months after your 65th birthday, you have two penalties.
TWO PENALTIES Waiting Period
There’s a waiting period penalty that doesn’t allow you join Medicare Part B right away. Baker explains that if you don’t enroll when you are first eligible you have to wait for January or March of that calendar year and your coverage won’t begin until July 1st.
That means you are uncovered. You don’t have Medicare, and the insurance that you do have is secondary and the insurer is likely to turn down your claims because Medicare should be the primary insurance.
There is also a 10 percent monetary penalty for every year that you could have, or should have, signed up for Part B. Baker offers the example of someone who should have signed up in April 2010, but didn’t.
The person realizes the mistake in October 2013, but has to wait until January of 2014 to sign up for coverage that will begin in July of 2014. They then have to pay a 20 percent penalty because it’s two years from the time they should have signed on.
For the rest of that person’s life they will pay 20 percent more than what everyone else pays for Part B.”
No Getting Around It The penalties are rigid and they are put in place because the folks who designed this system want younger, healthier people who don’t use a lot of medical services to sign up when they are well so that their premiums help pay the costs for older, sicker
Medicare recipients. Baker says, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to delay Part B enrollment.