Dollars & Sense: Medicare and Employer Insurance

Leah Kari, retired pharmaceutical representative and local licensed insurance agent

Are you Medicareeligible? Your Human Resources department will explain Medicare that can work with your employer’s health plan. Don’t delay learning if you must apply for Medicare Parts A, B, or both. Knowing your responsibilities about enrolling in Medicare will avoid misunderstandings and potential penalties.

Here are some questions for your Human Resources, Union, or Benefit Manager:

Do I need Medicare Part A, (the hospital benefit)? Your employer may require you to apply for Part A in your initial enrollment period. This is three months before you turn age 65, your birth month, and the three months thereafter. If you’ve paid Medicare taxes for 40 quarters or 10 years, you qualify for premiumfree Part A. If you qualify for Medicare due to a disability and will be automatically enrolled in Medicare, you’ll need to know what your options are.

Do I need Medicare Part B, (the medical benefit)? You may not need Medicare Part B, based on your employer and the size of the company. Many employers don’t require enrollment in Part B, for their coverage supplants the Part B benefit. If you don’t need to enroll in Part B, you’ll save money. Part B is not premiumfree for most people. The standard 2024 Part B monthly premium is $174.70 and changes annually. You may pay a higher premium based on your income. If your company requires Part B, you’ll want to enroll in the same initial enrollment period as for Part A. If Medicare automatically enrolls you in Parts A and B under age 65 due to disability, and your company doesn’t require you to have Part B, contact Medicare and investigate having your Part B coverage terminated to avoid the monthly premium. Reapply for Part B when you leave your employment.

If I do not need Part B, when should I apply for it to avoid a penalty? You may sign up for Part B at any time you are covered by your group plan, but you’ll pay the Part B monthly premium. Apply for Part B before leaving your company’s group plan, or during the eight-month period that starts the month after your employment ends or your plan coverage ends, whichever happens first. You’ll have a special enrollment period that will allow you to put new health insurance coverage in place. Allow at least one month for this special enrollment.

Enroll in Medicare at or call 18007721213 (TTY users dial 18003250778). Visit’s website for information and download the 2024 edition of Medicare and You. Call Medicare at 18006334227 (TTY users dial 18774862048) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

These simple steps can ensure your smooth transition into Medicare without surprises or penalties.

Leah Kari specializes in showing Medicareeligible people their insurance options. Reach Leah at 520-484-3807 or [email protected] (TTY users dial 711).