Should I take Medicare Part B even though I still work full-time and have health insurance from work?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I am 66, should I take Medicare Part B even though I still work full time and have health insurance at work?

Expert Answer

Barbara Steinberg is the CEO and founder of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, which specializes in helping families pay for long-term care for their loved ones. A registered financial gerontologist, she speaks regularly on the topic of paying for long-term care and is a financial expert for Caring.com.

If you're satisfied with the coverage from your health insurance at work, you don't need to take Medicare Part B now -- but there are some benefits to signing up. The advantage to taking Part B now is that it will pay for any services that aren't covered by your employer's health insurance (in other words: your employer's health insurance would be your primary insurance and Medicare would be the secondary.) However, if you don’t need this additional protection, you can avoid paying the monthly premium for Part B, which will be a minimum of $96.40 in 2008 (depending on your income, this could be higher).

Although there is a penalty for late Medicare enrollment, it doesn't apply to you because people over the age of 65 who have insurance through their employer are exempt from the late enrollment penalty. If you don't have health insurance through your employer, you must enroll in Medicare during the initial enrollment period (which starts three months before your 65th birthday and ends seven months later), or you can't enroll until the next general enrollment period (January 1-- March 31 of the following year) and coverage won't begin until July 1st of that year. In addition, you'll pay an extra 10 percent on the premium for every 12 months of late enrollment.