It is best to be knowledgeable about your current healthcare coverage when considering your options when signing up for Medicare.
Signing up for Medicare can be as simple as signing a form when you become eligible but it is really important to be aware of your Medicare options as well because of the potential impact those options could have on your employer-provided health insurance.
Recently, the Motley Fool discussed some of the options in “Read This Before You Take Medicare Benefits.”
The things to consider include:
- Employer Provided Coverage – If you are still working when you become eligible for Medicare, you need to understand how Medicare benefits will interact with your employer provided insurance. There is not a hard and fast rule, but generally if an employer has fewer than 20 employees, then Medicare will be the primary insurer with the employer provided insurance acting as a secondary insurer. The opposite is true for larger companies. It is important to speak to your current insurer to find out for certain and if that insurer has any policies concerning when you must sign up for Medicare.
- Medicare Advantage – You have the option of signing up for traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage. Traditional Medicare benefits are administered directly through state agencies and allow the option of signing up separately for Part D prescription benefits. Medicare Advantage plans are operated by private insurers and have prescription drug benefits rolled into them. Depending on your needs one or the other may be cheaper or provide better coverage.
- Penalties – If you do not sign up for Medicare when you first become eligible, then you might face penalties when you do start receiving benefits. Those penalties are different for each part of Medicare.
An elder law attorney would be helpful and there is information available on the official Medicarewebsite.