These days, many people are still working past age 65, the age at which you can start receiving health insurance coverage through Medicare. If you are one of these people, and are covered by your employer’s health insurance plan, you may think there is no need for you to sign up for Medicare.
You would be wrong. Provided that you have had Social Security and Medicare taxes deducted from your wages, Medicare hospitalization insurance, known as “Part A”, is free. If you work for a company that has more than 20 employees, your hospital bills first go to your company-provided health insurer for payment. If some amount of the bill is not covered by this private insurer, the bill goes to Medicare as a secondary payer.
If you work for a small company that has less than 20 employees, your hospital bills first go to Medicare, then to the private insurer as a secondary payer.
However, if you don’t sign up for Medicare, Part A, you may have to pay the Medicare portion of your hospital bill.
Medicare, Part B, however, which covers doctor fees, outpatient care, physical therapy and some home health care, is not free. If you are covered by your employer’s insurance plan, you don’t want to start Part B while you are still covered by the private insurer – that is you don’t want to sign up for Part B until you retire. You need to sign up for Part B within eight months of the date you retire or your Part B premium will cost you 10% over what it would have been had you signed up in that eight month retirement window.