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If you qualify for Medicare, but you have health insurance through an employer’s group health plan, you may be able to delay enrollment in Medicare Part B. When your employer-based coverage ends, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to enroll in Medicare Part B without facing a late-enrollment penalty.
If you’ve worked at least 10 years (40 quarters) while paying Medicare taxes, you typically qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A. Since most Medicare beneficiaries pay a monthly Medicare Part B premium, some people choose not to enroll in Part B or to delay enrollment. Generally, you face a lifetime late-enrollment penalty for Part B if you sign up after you’re first eligible for Medicare.
However, Medicare has a Special Enrollment Period when you can enroll in Medicare Part B without a penalty. This is how your SEP works:
If all of these apply to you…
…you may qualify for a SEP to enroll in Medicare Part B at any of these times:
If you’re working and plan to keep your employer’s group health coverage, talk to your benefits administrator to help you decide when to enroll in Part B.
If your employer-based group coverage ends and you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during the SEP, you have to wait until the General Enrollment Period to enroll and you may pay a higher Part B premium as a late enrollment penalty.
If you’re interested in enrolling in a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan, be aware that when your Part B coverage starts, your six-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period begins. Once this period begins, in most cases it cannot be changed or restarted.
Additionally, if you dropped Part B because you or your spouse (or family member, if you’re disabled) returned to work and had group health coverage, you can sign up for Part B again during the SEP described above and the Part B premium will not go up. Make sure your group coverage is active before you drop Part B. However, you generally will not get another Medigap Open Enrollment Period when you restart Part B.
eHealth's Medicare website is operated by eHealthInsurance Services, Inc., a licensed health insurance agency doing business as eHealth. The purpose of this site is the solicitation of insurance. Contact may be made by an insurance agent/producer or insurance company. eHealth and Medicare supplement insurance plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program. We offer plans from a number of insurance companies.