Do I have to take Medicare?

10 answers | Last updated: Jan 15, 2016
Freebird7397 asked...

I am a widow and on disability. I get a disability check and a Social Security widows' benefits check. I am turning 65 in 2009 and want to know if I have to have Medicare? I have no dependents.


Expert Answers

You don't have to participate in Medicare if you don't want to. But unless you have good free or very low-cost health insurance coverage through your or your husband's former employment, it's probably a very good idea to have both Medicare Part A hospital insurance and Medicare Part B medical insurance once you turn 65. Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage is less important to enroll in immediately, especially if you don't regularly take prescription medicine. However, there's a financial penalty if you don't enroll in a Part D program when you first turn 65 but do so more than six months later.

Medicare Part A can protect you against most of the enormous cost of being hospitalized, which is something that becomes more and more likely as we get older. And since you're eligible for Social Security survivors benefits, Medicare Part A is free for you, so there's no reason not to have it. Because you already receive Social Security benefits, you will be automatically enrolled in Part A within three months of your 65th birthday.

When you turn 65, you will also be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B, which would cost you $96.40 a month. For this monthly premium, Part B covers 80 percent (and sometimes more) of the cost of most services you receive from almost any doctor, in the hospital or out, as well as all kinds of other outpatient medical care such as laboratory tests, x-rays, physical therapy, preventive screening exams, home health care, medical equipment and supplies. If you're in good health, you might be able to spend less than the Part B monthly fee for awhile, by using drop-in clinics and the like. But at some point you're likely to need more extensive medical care, and when you do, the Part B premium will seem like a great bargain.

If you decide you don't want to pay for Part B right away, you have to indicate that on the form Social Security will send you when it notifies you, near your 65th birthday, that you've been automatically enrolled. If you choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B when you're first eligible for it but later decide you want it, you'll only be able to enroll in it during an open enrollment period in the first three months of each year. Your coverage would begin on July 1 of that year. For every year after age 65 that you delayed enrolling in Part B, however, your monthly premium will be 10 percent higher.


Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Thanks. I am so glad to have someone to ask questions. This is very confusing. I have a whole drawer full of medicare/insurance/etc....and I can't be the only one innundated by these offers.


Boa answered...

thanks for that info


Eldercoach answered...

Great answer about why having Medicare is important. For anyone who is confused by all the choices and possibilities of Medicare options and supplemental plans, there is SHIP. Each state has a State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) which has volunteer counselors to guide you through your Medicare choices. You can find the numbers for your local SHIP office on your state's website or by looking under state government in the phone book.


Solveig answered...

As a 69 year old, I had similar questions when I reached 65. At that point my meds and doctor's visits were few and far between. But, boy, did my body take a nose dive a year or two later. I am sure happy I decided to take all those benefits right away.


Jsf answered...

If you are receiving Social Security, Part A is mandatory. Parts B and D are not, but if you later decide you want Part B or Part D, there is an accumulating penalty, and you will pay more than the regular rate. The penalty does not apply if you can show that you had insurance as good or better than Medicare.


Kingofone answered...

medicare is the biggest joke ever played on the American people. part a pays nothing. I was in the hospital overnight and I was billed over $2500.00 . none of which was covered . at least if I had died ss would have buried me.


Mbb man answered...

You're missing most of the joke. The real joke is that you are forced to pay for it for 40+ years while working......then you get the privilege of paying a monthly premium, copays, deductibles, etc when you hit 65!

Why can't we just forgo the 40+ year tax and simply pay for health insurance when we turn 65? It's pretty much what we are doing anyway.


Woman 71 answered...

To the one who said they had a 2500.00 hospital some hospitals have a charity plan which might benefit you. if you died the SS would have only paid I think $250.00 not enough to be creameated. Also if they put you in the hospital make sure you are ADMITTED for 24 hours not just as OBSERVATION


Sheair answered...

Medicare is more than $96.40 a month, it is $121.80, so now I have to pay for my insurance from my employer which I still have after retirement and there was a price increase, and it has to move to the second insurance., but my military tricare says I have to have Medicare to keep tricare. So now I have 3 insurance. This is unreal what is wrong with the government.