MEDICARE, Part A, B, C and D
The Original Medicare Plan (Medicare Part A & B) is available everywhere in the United States. It is the way everyone used to get Medicare benefits and is the way most people get their Medicare Part A and Part B benefits now. You may go to any doctor, specialist, or hospital that accepts Medicare. The Original Medicare Plan pays its share and your supplemental FEHB coverage often pays the difference and if you carry both Part A and B most FEHB plans waive the deductible, copayments and coinsurance. Some things are not covered under Original Medicare, like prescription drugs.
Can I sign up for Medicare Part D at any time?
If you are newly eligible for Medicare, you can enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan up to three months before — and no later than three months after — the month you become eligible. If you didn’t sign up for Medicare Part D at age 65 because you had other drug coverage as good as Medicare’s, you will not have to pay a penalty for signing up late, provided you sign up for a Medicare drug plan within 63 days of dropping your other coverage. If you just didn’t sign up for Part D and currently have no drug plan, you will have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you now want to begin a Part D plan. The longer you wait to sign up, the higher your penalty — and you will have to pay the higher premium for as long as you have Part D.
When to Sign Up for Medicare, When to Delay
You are eligible for Medicare when you turn 65. But these days, the decision to sign up is not a slam-dunk. For example, after you enroll in Medicare, you can no longer contribute to a health savings account. If, however, you work for a company with fewer than 20 employees, you usually don’t have a choice: Medicare Part A, which covers hospitalization, must be your primary insurance. The decision to sign up or not also depends on whether you’re receiving Social Security benefits and whether your spouse has coverage through your health insurance. If you miss key deadlines, you could have a gap in coverage, miss out on valuable tax breaks or get stuck with a penalty for the rest of your life.
When You Should Sign Up for Medicare
Most people should sign up for Part A, which covers in-patient and hospital care, as soon as they are eligible; it’s generally free. If you’re still working and you get health insurance from your employer, however, you can usually choose whether to sign up for Part B, which covers doctor’s visits and outpatient care. The monthly premium is $104.90 for most people in 2015; it’s more if your income is higher than $85,000 if single or $170,000 if married filing jointly. See What You’ll Pay for Medicare in 2015 for details about the high-income surcharge. See Should I Get Part B? at Medicare.gov for more information about the decision to sign up or not.