More older Americans are working after age 65 than ever before. Some do it for financial reasons. The added income helps defray health care and other living expenses. Others do it for social and intellectual benefits. Regardless of why you may decide to continue working past age 65, you can receive Medicare benefits while you’re still working. Here’s how Medicare works when you’re not retired.
Check Your Medicare Eligibility
As a U.S. citizen, when you turn 65, you become eligible to receive Medicare, even if you’re still working and covered by an employer medical plan. Your employment status doesn’t change your Medicare eligibility. If you are still working, turning 65, and receiving private health insurance from your own or your spouse’s employer, you may be tempted to pass up Medicare benefits. Before you do, consider the advantages of enrolling in Medicare to reduce your medical expenses and to avoid potential penalties for late enrollment.
Evaluate Your Employment Status
Medicare works along with job-based insurance plans. How much or how little you work doesn’t matter. You can work a full-time job and still sign up for Medicare. Your employer cannot force you to take Medicare at 65 or drop your private insurance. You can also choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan even if you’re still working and have access to employer health plans.
If you choose to go back into the workforce after a period of retirement, you can continue to receive Medicare if you are eligible. You can also use Medicare Open Enrollment to select a new Medicare or Medicare Advantage plan
that may best suit your needs.
Close Gaps in Private Health Benefits
There are a few work situations where you could benefit from enrolling in Medicare when you become eligible. For example, your private insurance might have gaps that leave you vulnerable to higher costs. The addition of Medicare could help cover some of these expenses. Self-employed older adults could have issues with their private insurance, which might be very costly or not offer comprehensive coverage. In this case, Medicare could provide a better health care insurance option.
Know When and How Medicare Pays
If you or your spouse work for a company with fewer than 20 employees, Medicare becomes the primary insurance and pays for services first before private insurance is applied. However, private insurance pays before Medicare kicks in if you or your spouse’s employer has more than 20 employees. It is also important to know that some private insurance plans could have rules that reduce what they pay or cover if you or your spouse are eligible for other insurance such as Medicare.
Avoid Penalties at All Costs
Some Medicare benefits can be claimed at no cost to those who qualify. For example, many people who are 65 or older qualify for free Part A coverage (which covers hospital expenses). Part A can be used to reduce your out-of-pocket hospital costs for things like inpatient care, skilled nursing, hospice, lab tests, surgery, and home health care.
Part B covers medically necessary and preventive services. If you enroll in Part B Medicare while still working, know that it comes with a monthly premium. If you have qualified insurance through your or your spouse’s employer, you can delay Part B enrollment through the Medicare Part B Special Enrollment Period (SEP) with no penalty. If you don’t have qualified private insurance and miss your initial enrollment period for Medicare Part B, you can incur indefinite penalty charges.
Add Drug Coverage If You Need It
If you have private insurance and don’t have drug coverage, you can enroll in a Medicare Part D drug plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage. But be sure to enroll within three months of when you’re eligible for Medicare so that you can avoid a Part D late-enrollment penalty. If you have private insurance with creditable drug coverage, you can delay getting Part D without penalties.
Compare Your Medicare Options with AgeFriendly.org
Are you working past 65? Unsure whether you should sign up for Medicare if you’re still working? Confused about your Medicare and employer coverage? Need help applying for Medicare while still working?
AgeFriendly.org wants to help you find the right Medicare coverage for your needs.
We’ve partnered with SelectQuote
to help you compare Medicare plans with the help of a licensed agent. You can call 1-855-589-1050 (TTY:1-877-486-2048) today or visit medicare.selectquote.com/agefriendly
at your convenience. No obligation to enroll.