Most people should enroll in Part B when they first become eligible for Medicare. But there is one reason to consider waiting. You may want to wait if:
- You or your spouse is still actively working for a company with more than 20 full-time workers when you turn 65 AND
- You get health insurance through your job or your spouse's job.
What should I think about?
There are a couple of things you should consider if you want to delay taking Part B:
- You can save money. There is a monthly premium for Part B. If you already get health coverage through your job or your spouse's job, you may not need Part B coverage. Check with your human resource department to find out, or get personal help.
- You may miss out on your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. Medicare is not free, and you can buy special supplemental insurance to help cover Medicare's costs. It is called Medigap. But usually the Medigap insurance companies can review your medical history before they sell you a policy. This is called medical underwriting. The only time an insurance company cannot medically underwrite you is when you turn 65 and are signed up for Medicare Part B. This is called your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. It is a 6-month period to buy a Medigap policy. It is the best time to buy one. You only get one Open Enrollment Period, so be sure not to miss it.
Note: If you are still working or your spouse is and you have health insurance through the job, you can delay Part B. Then you will get your Medigap Open Enrollment Period later on when you need it, when you enroll in Part B. Do not delay or decline Part B for any other reason.
How do I enroll in Part A but not Part B?
If you decide to keep health coverage through your or your spouse's job, you can decline Medicare Part B. Apply for Medicare as you normally would, and follow the instructions that come with your Medicare card. On the back of the card, check the box that says, “I decline Part B Medical Insurance.” Sign the card, and send it back to Social Security.
You will still have Medicare Part A, which is free. Social Security will send you a new card that shows this. You then will have a short time to sign up for Part B:
- When you retire OR
- If you or your spouse stops actively working and you lose your job's health insurance.
Is there a penalty if I delay Part B?
If you have health insurance through your job/an actively working spouse, you can delay Part B without a penalty. However, when you/your spouse stops actively working, you will have a Special Enrollment Period in which to sign up for Part B. If you do not sign up during this time, you may face a penalty if you enroll later.
It is important to know the Part B enrollment deadlines, or you could end up paying more for your Part B premiums when you do enroll in Part B.
If you do not have health insurance from your job or your spouse's job when you turn 65, usually you should take Part B. Sign the card, and keep it safe.
If you are still not sure whether to start Part B now or later, or you have more questions, get personal help.