For a variety of reasons many people are still active in the workplace when they become eligible for Medicare. Recently, I’ve been contacted by several people who are still on their employer’s group health plan and were confused about whether to enroll in Part A and/or Part B.
Even if you have coverage at work, you should sign up for Medicare Part A. Between Part A and the coverage through your group health plan, many of your costs related to hospitalization should be covered. Part A may even help pay some of the costs for services/treatments not covered by your group health plan. Most people will not have to pay for Part A and enrolling is made easy by calling The Social Security Department at 1.800.772.1213. Those looking to confirm whether or not they will need to pay for Part A would call the same number.
When it comes to Part B, for 2012, the monthly standard cost is $99.90 and the cost is expected to rise to about $120.20. Depending on the coverage you have at your job, you may want to also enroll in Part B because Part B helps pay for costs associated with outpatient care. Part B would coordinate with your group coverage thereby lowering your out of pocket costs. If your employer has less than 20 employees, Medicare pays first and your group plan is the secondary (vice versa if your company employs more than 20 people). How do you decide whether to pay for Part B when you still have group coverage? It really comes down to your medical history and comfort level with risk. One place to start is to consider whether your monthly outpatient medical costs will be more than the cost to purchase Part B.
When you do eventually leave your job, it will be like becoming eligible again where you will have the opportunity to select a Medicare Supplement Plan/Prescription Drug plan or MedicareAdvantage Plan.
For more information on Medigap open enrollment periods, see the publication Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare as well as: Medicare and Other Health Benefits: Your Guide to Who Pays First
And, please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions and/or concerns, 800.608.7278.