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Going Back and Forth Between Working and Unemployment

If you are already working – or you just went back to work – while you may want to enroll in Medicare Part A, you will not need to enroll in Medicare Part B at that time to avoid any late enrollment penalties. You have a Special Enrollment Period of eight months that begins the month after your employment ends or you are no longer receiving health insurance from your employer (whichever happens first) to enroll.

To avoid late enrollment penalties, make sure you apply and pay for Medicare Part B during your Special Enrollment Period. If you fail to make a payment during the allotted eight-month time frame, it will be the same as if you had never enrolled. You will have to wait until the following year during the General Enrollment Period to enroll, and you will incur a permanent 10% premium penalty for every year you delay.

In addition to the Medicare premium penalty and the loss of health coverage protection you are entitled to, if you fail to enroll in Medicare, Fund benefits will be reduced as if Medicare had paid its portion. (See the charts on page 7 or Appendix A for examples)

When you lose health coverage after 65, Medicare treats the time period(s) in which you apply for Medicare Part B differently depending upon how soon you apply. It works like this:

Time Period In Which Medicare Part B Is Requested Month Coverage Begins
1st THREE MONTHS OF NO EMPLOYER GROUP HEALTH PLAN OR NO WORK Part B coverage starts the same month it is requested.
4th THROUGH 8th MONTH OF NO EMPLOYER GROUP HEALTH PLAN OR NO WORK Part B coverage starts the month after the month requested.

SUPPOSE YOU WENT ONE YEAR WITHOUT SIGNING UP: Your Medicare Part B premium would be $115.39 a month instead of $104.90. It would cost you an extra $125.88 a year than if you had filed inside the eligibility window. If you live an additional 20 years, you will pay an additional $2,517.60 than otherwise would have been necessary. This additional premium increases each year you fail to enroll.

As you can see, it is extremely important to enroll and pay for Medicare Part B in a timely manner. If you’re already receiving Social Security then you can have the premium automatically deducted from your check, but if you are not, you will have to make arrangements to send in your premium. Without timely payment, you will be subject to the increased costs detailed above.

* This example is for illustrative purposes only and may not reflect the actual Medicare Part B premium or any late enrollment payment you may have to pay.