Elder Care Lawyer Christopher Berry Discusses Employed Medicare Enrollment Options

Law Firm Newswire



Bloomfield Hills, MI (Law Firm Newswire) September 5, 2013 – Though many individuals continue to work well past the age of 65, not many know if they should enroll in Medicare while still employed.

When their employer offers health care, with full or partial coverage, they are unsure if Medicare is even available, much less a prudent choice.

“It is currently considered a smart move for most workers to enroll in Medicare Part A,” said Michigan elder law attorney Christopher J. Berry. “Part A is free coverage for many people and it covers care in skilled nursing facilities and hospitals, and covers some care from home health agencies and hospices.” Before enrolling, says Berry, they should check with their employer or their spouse’s employer, if that is how they are currently covered, to see if the current coverage will be affected by Medicare enrollment. For some plans, even enrolling in Part A can change standard health care coverage.

Medicare Part B is in place to cover preventative care such as office visits and tests and outpatient care. There is a monthly premium for Medicare Part B; the amount changes every year. Individuals should be aware that if they do not sign up for Medicare Part B, as soon as they become eligible, they will likely have to pay a penalty of 10 percent of the premium for each of the years they delayed their enrollment. But employees currently employed and insured via an employee group health plan are allowed to delay enrolling in Part B without any penalty.

Those individuals are given a special enrollment period of up to eight months before they must sign up after retiring. Deciding to enroll in Medicare Part B should also depend on the number of employees in the health care program; if there are more than 20 employees, the employer’s group health plan is the primary insurer. However, if the employer has fewer than 20 employees, it is typically prudent to enroll in Medicare as soon as the date of eligibility occurs, as Medicare is the primary insurer.

“For those choosing to not enroll in Medicare part B, Medicare Part D may still be a worthwhile plan,” says Berry. “Part D covers prescription drugs. For those who already have prescription drug coverage through their employer’s health care plan, it is necessary to receive a letter from the insurance plan stating whether or not that company’s coverage is equal to or better than what Medicare can offer (known as ‘creditable’). If the current plan is ‘creditable,’ there will be no late-enrollment penalty for switching to Medicare Part D at a later date.”