Medicare and Me: Still Working and Ready for Medicare

Leah Kari

Are you turning 65, employed, and covered by your employer’s health plan? You’ll need to know how Medicare will work with your health plan. If you aren’t claiming your Social Security benefit, you’ll need to apply for either part A, or both part A and B. It’s never too early to investigate what you need to do during this important time, especially if you have health coverage at work.

Here are some questions to ask so you know what you need to retain your group health plan.

Begin by contacting your Human Resources department, your union, benefit, or health plan administrator to ask these two key questions:

Do I need to have Medicare part A, (the hospital benefit)?

Many employers recommend you apply for part A when you’re first eligible. Your initial enrollment period is three months before you turn age 65, your birth month, and the three months thereafter. If you’ve paid Medicare taxes for forty quarters or ten years, you qualify for a premium free part A. Most apply in the three month period before they turn 65, and it’s recommended.

Do I need to have Medicare part B, (the medical benefit)?

Based on your employer and the size of the company, you may not need to enroll in Medicare part B. Many employers don’t require enrollment in Medicare part B, for their coverage supplants what part B provides. If your employer doesn’t require you to enroll, you will save money. Part B is not premium free. The cost in 2020 is on average $144.60 per month and changes annually. You may also pay a higher premium based on income. Your company may require you to have part B, and it’s recommended you enroll in the three months before you turn 65.

You may sign up for part B anytime you’re covered by your group plan (but you’ll pay the monthly premium). You should 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’s coverage ends, whichever happens first. You’ll have a special enrollment period that will allow you to put new health insurance coverage in place.

Be sure to take notes, names, and ask if there is a call reference number. Request this information be emailed to you for further clarification.

You can enroll online by accessing or by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Visit’s website for more details and download the 2020 copy of Medicare and You, the official U.S. Government Medicare Handbook for a wealth of information. These simple steps will ensure a smooth transition into Medicare, and avoid any surprises or penalties.

Leah Sugar Kari is a retired pharmaceutical representative and local licensed insurance agent specializing in Medicare products and in showing Medicare eligible people their insurance options. Reach Leah for comments at 520-484-3807 or [email protected] (TTY users dial 711).