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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Enrolling in Medicare

Step 2 for Enrolling in Medicare continued...

If you were enrolled in Medicare automatically and do not want Part B:

  • A form that comes in the mail with your Medicare card allows you to opt out of Part B.
  • Indicate that you do not want Part B coverage on the form.

If you are enrolling yourself in Medicare:

  • Indicate that you do not want Part B when you enroll by phone, by Internet, or in person.

If you opt out of Part B when you are enrolled, you may pay higher premiums if you decide you want it later. The premium goes up 10% every year that you could have had Part B.

There are some exceptions. You will not pay more for signing up later:

  • If you are covered by another group health plan when you turn 65.
  • If you sign up for Part B within eight months after the other group health plan no longer covers you.

If you decline Part B at first, and do not sign up within eight months after your other health coverage ends, you can only sign up during Medicare's "general enrollment" period: January 1 to March 31 of each year, and your coverage will not begin until July of that year.

Before opting out of Medicare Part B, it would be a good idea to talk to the group benefits administrator with your other health insurance plan. In some cases, Medicare Part B would be your main insurance even if you have other coverage.

Step 3 for Medicare Enrollment

Your retiree health insurance plan may pay for some of the deductibles or co-payments that you have to pay with Medicare coverage. If you don't have retiree health benefits, you can decide to participate in a Medicare Advantage plan that often covers some of the gaps in Medicare. Or you can buy specially designed health insurance that supplements Medicare called Medigap insurance.

Medigap Insurance

Medigap plans are sold by private companies to seniors on Medicare. These plans are meant to fill in the "gaps" in Medicare. They help pay for things that Medicare does not cover.

If you are going to buy a Medigap plan, you should do so within six months of taking Medicare Part B. During this six-month window, insurers:

  • Can't deny you coverage
  • Can't delay the start of your coverage
  • Can't charge you more based on pre-existing health problems

If you try to buy a Medigap policy after your six-month enrollment period has ended, there is no guarantee that you will be given coverage.

To learn about Medigap plans offered in your area, you can use the online Medicare Personal Plan Finder.

Medicare Advantage (formerly Medicare + Choice)

These are managed care plans sold by private insurers as alternatives to the traditional Medicare Plan. To join, you must already have Medicare Part A and Part B. Your Medicare Advantage plan may also require a monthly fee for some of the plan's extra benefits.

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