When to Enroll in Part B

The best answer to “when should I enroll in Part B?” is “before you need it.” Enrollment in Part A, hospital insurance, is usually automatic when you turn 65, or two years after you become entitled to Social Security Disability, or the first or fourth month you’re on Medicare for End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), depending on your dialysis arrangements. Enrollment in Part B is voluntary, although Medicare will assume you want it when you turn 65.

Why Delay Part B Enrollment?

If you’re not ready to retire and still have employer health coverage, you can delay Medicare Part B enrollment without penalty.  

Depending on how your employer’s plan coordinates with Medicare, signing up for Part B could lower your premiums, deductibles, and co-payments. You can check with your HR office to find out.

If you’re not actively working but have good insurance from a previous employer, there is no reason to enroll in Part B. This is often the situation with Federal employees, who can take their standard health plan into retirement, although it becomes a Medicare supplement plan if they enroll in Part B.

  • Either of these situations is known as having “creditable employer coverage.” 
  • If you have it, there’s no penalty for delayed enrollment in Part B.

When Can I Enroll in Part B?

Your Initial Enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after. Your Special Enrollment period is an eight-month period that begins when you or your spouse quit working or lose creditable employer coverage. Outside of those, your only time to enroll is in the General Enrollment period, which runs from January 1 to March 31 of each year.

What’s the Bottom Line?

For most people, it makes the most sense, economically and in terms of coverage, to enroll in Part B as soon as they are eligible. This gives you maximum flexibility regardless of how your situation changes.

For more information about Part B, reach out to us today!

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