Should You Get Part B?
“Should I get Part B?” It’s one of the most frequently asked questions that we receive. The following information can help you decide.
Employer or union coverage:
If you or your spouse is still working and you currently have health coverage through that employer or union, contact your employer or union benefits administrator to find out how your coverage works with Medicare. This includes federal or state employment, and active-duty military service.
It might be to your advantage to delay Part B enrollment. You can sign up for Part B without paying a penalty any time you have health coverage based on your or your spouse’s current employment.
Coverage based on current employment doesn’t include:
- Retiree coverage
- VA coverage
- Individual health coverage (like through the Health Insurance Marketplace)
Once the employment or coverage based on current employment ends (whichever happens first), 3 things happen:
- You have 8 months to sign up for Part B without a penalty. This period will run whether or not you choose COBRA. If you choose COBRA, don’t wait until our COBRA ends to enroll in Part B. If you don’t enroll in Part B during the 8 months after the employment ends, you may have to pay a penalty after you enroll for as long as you have Part B. You won’t be able to enroll until the next General Enrollment Period, and you’ll have to wait until July 1 of that year before your coverage begins. This may cause a gap in your health care coverage.
- If you already have COBRA coverage when you enroll in Medicare, your COBRA will probably end
- If you become eligible for COBRA coverage after you’re already enrolled in Medicare, you must be allowed to take the COBRA coverage. If you choose COBRA, it will always be secondary to Medicare, unless you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
- You may be able to get COBRA coverage, which continues your health coverage through the employer’s plan (in most cases for only 18 months) but probably at a higher cost to you.
- When you sign up for Part B, your Medigap Open Enrollment Period begins.
If you have TRICARE (health care program for active-duty service member and their families), you generally must enroll in Part A and Part B when you’re first eligible to keep your TRICARE coverage. However, if you’re an active-duty service member or an ative-duty family, you don’t have to enroll in Part B to keep your TRICARE coverage.
Active-duty service members:
You must enroll in Part B before you retire to keep TRICARE without a break in coverage.
Active-duty family members:
You must enroll in Part B before your active-duty sponsor retires to keep TRICARE without a break in coverage.
Other important TRICARE information:
You should enroll in Part A and Part B when you’re first eligible based on End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
After the active-duty service member retires, the TRICARE coverage becomes TRICARE For Life (TFL), which acts as a supplement to Medicare. This means:
- For services covered by Medicare and TRICARE, TFL will pay the Medicare deductible and coinsurance amounts.
- For services covered by Medicare but not TRICARE, you pay the Medicare deductible and coinsurance amounts.
- You pay the costs of services Medicare or TRICARE doesn’t cover.
Do you want to learn more about Part B? A Medicare Mentor can guide you!
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