It is the middle of November 2017 and we are already halfway through the Annual Enrollment Period and there still seems to be a lot confusion relating to Medicare Part B. Some folks have no idea what they’ll be paying, some don’t know when they should start it, some don’t know how to sign up for it, and then some don’t even know what Part B is or what it does.
First, Part B is the medical portion of your Medicare, meaning it covers about 80% of your doctor/specialist visits, surgeries, outpatient procedure, x-rays, MRI’s, cat-scans, ER visits etc. To clarify, when you have both Parts A & B you are about 80% covered as far as costs, you then need to make a decision regarding Part C or Medigap supplement insurance to fill in the gap.
One thing I notice a lot is that I meet numerous people who are insured under employer plans because they continue to work past age 65 but have both Parts A & B of Medicare already in place. When you turn age 65 you are automatically enrolled into Part A so you have no choice. However, if you are going to continue to stay covered under your employer’s plan past age 65 you should know you do not need to enroll into Medicare Part B.
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If you do, you will end up paying the Part B premium and you will not even be reaping the benefits of it because your employer plan is still covering your medical benefits. You would be simply throwing money out the window. As long as you are being covered medically under credible coverage you will not incur a penalty of not signing up for Part B.
Now there is a lot of confusion being created when it comes to employers offering Cobra as being credible coverage.
Cobra is not considered credible coverage and there could potentially be penalties involved so PLEASE reach out to BGA Insurance Group so we can accurately explain your options. If you don’t, you could end up costing yourself a lot of extra money.
Most folks have a good sense of when they are thinking of retiring and start to plan out their options three months ahead of their retirement date, I say, great idea!
If you know your last day of employment will be Feb. 28th, for example, chances are that will be the last day of your medical coverage. Always check with your HR department for confirmation on that because it is vitally important. Let’s use the Feb.28th day as an example, then we know you would want your Medicare Part B start date slated for March 1st, reason being you do not want a lapse in coverage.
That means it is imperative that you call or visit your local social security office so you can fill out the proper paperwork so you can have your Part B date activated. After you’ve done that a BGA insurance agent can sit down with you and discuss all your Medicare supplement options along with the Part D prescription plans.
The exact amount you will be paying for Part B will be declared by Social Security in 2019. You will have to speak with that office for an exact clarification for that amount. Some folks will pay more for Part B than others which is determined on your income. Without getting too political some would argue that is flat-out wrong because we all paid into it with our taxes our whole working-class lives. But it is what it is.
You will pay the normal premium amount if any of the following apply, this is based on 2017 because of course no information is available as of now for 2019 but I am pretty sure the same rules will apply:
- 2017 is the first time you enroll in Part B
- You do not receive Social Security benefits
- You are directly billed for your Part B premiums
- Medicaid pays any premiums because you have Medicaid and Medicare (therefore your state will pay the standard premium amount of $134)
Your modified adjusted gross income as reported on your IRS tax return from two years ago is above a certain amount. If so, you’ll pay the standard premium amount and an Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). IRMAA is an extra charge added to your premium.
Again, the most important thing you need to decide first, is when you will be retiring and how long you will be covered under credible coverage. Next, get in touch with social security and sign up for Part B on your desired date and find ask what your monthly premium will be. After that, get in touch with a BGA insurance agent and the rest is really easy and stress free.
There are about four weeks left of AEP, anyone in PA, NJ, DE, or FL who is confused, wants to change their Advantage (HMO) plan, wants to pay significantly less for their medigap plan or drug plan, reach out, we’re here waiting to assist you.
Joe Bachmeier is a co-founder of BGA Insurance Group
BGA Insurance Group is licensed to help seniors in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Florida.