Almost 20 percent of Americans 65 and older are now working, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That seems only natural that people are working longer because they’re living longer. Today, one in four people who reach age 65 will live past 90, according to the Social Security Administration. One in 10 will live past 95.
So how does medical health insurance coverage through an employer and Medicare work together? Medicare benefits start at age 65, but depending on your circumstances, Medicare is either the primary or secondary insurer. The primary pays medical bills first and then secondary insurance covers those costs the primary doesn’t. When you apply for Medicare, you can sign up for Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). Because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you can turn it down. The crucial step is to determine if Medicare is primary or secondary and whether or not you are required to enroll in Medicare part B at age 65. Your initial enrollment period begins three months before turning 65. If you are required but fail to sign up for Medicare Part B, the part B premium could go up 10% per year prior to enrolling.
Here are some steps to help make sure you are following the rules:
- The size of the employer determines whether you may be able to delay Part A and Part B without having to pay a penalty if you enroll later. By law, group health plans of employers with 20 or more employees have to offer current workers and their spouses who are age 65 (or older) the same health benefits as younger workers. If you or your spouse are still working and covered under an employer-provided group health plan, talk to the personnel office before signing up for Medicare Part B.
- If your employer has fewer than 20 employees, Medicare will generally be the primary insurer and your employer’s coverage will be the secondary insurer. Therefore you will need to enroll at age 65.
- If you have an HSA when you sign up for Medicare, you can’t contribute to your HSA once your Medicare coverage begins.
- For more information, visit www.medicare.gov.