10 Common Medicare Questions Answered

If you’re feeling overwhelmed as you plan to enroll in Medicare, you’re not alone. With so many plan options available, it’s hard to know when or where to begin. Whether you’re eligible for Medicare yet or not, start by educating yourself on the process.

To help you, RetireMEDiQ’s team of expert advisors answered a list of frequently-asked questions.

1. How Do I Sign up for Medicare Part A & Part B?

Medicare Part A and Part B are also called “Original Medicare.” Regardless of your employment status, you become eligible for Original Medicare when you turn 65. To enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, call our advisors. We can discuss your options and find the best coverage for you. Depending on your individual situation and health care needs, we can customize your coverage through a combination of Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D. 

2. If I’m Working Past Age 65, Can I Enroll in Medicare Part A Only?

The short answer: Yes.

If you’re at least 65 years old and have been employed for at least 10 years under Medicare-covered employment while paying Medicare taxes, you will automatically be enrolled for premium-free Medicare Part A if you are currently receiving a Social Security (SS) benefits check. If you do not receive SS benefits, you must enroll for Part A manually. Calling our advisors is the easiest way to enroll. 

If you do not meet the work history requirement, you can still enroll in Medicare Part A. However, compare the coverage and costs of Medicare Part A to your employer coverage. It may make more sense to remain on your employer’s health coverage.

3. What’s the Difference Between My Employer’s Retiree Health Insurance Plan and Medicare?

A retiree health insurance plan is health care coverage provided by an employer to its former employees when they retire. In most cases, retiree policies act as a secondary payer to Medicare. This means the retiree policy will cover some (if not all) of your remaining expenses after Medicare pays its share for your medical services.

To ensure you’re fully covered in retirement, we recommend enrolling in Medicare on top of your employer’s retiree health insurance plan. Your employer’s policy may even require that you enroll once you are eligible for Medicare Parts A and B.

Check with your employer’s benefits team to learn more about the coverage offered through their retiree health coverage program. Further, contact an advisor at RetireMEDiQ to compare coverage. We’ll help you find the right option for your needs.

4. I Plan to Keep Working Past Age 65. What Does This Mean for My Health Care Coverage Related to Medicare?

If you plan on working past age 65, your entry into Medicare may look a little different—and that’s okay! Keep these things in mind.

Medicare & Employer Benefits

  • If you receive health care benefits from an employer with 20 or more employees, you may not need to enroll in Medicare. However, look into all your options once you’re eligible for Medicare. Medicare may save you money compared to your employer coverage.
  • Does your current employer offer a high deductible health plan with a Health Savings Account (HSA)? If so, you may want to wait to enroll in Medicare Part A. If you enroll in Part A, your employer will no longer be able to contribute to your HSA. You must stop contributing to your HSA six months before you enroll in Medicare Part A.

Original Medicare Enrollment

  • Have you been employed for at least 10 years and paid Medicare taxes during that time? Are you currently receiving Social Security benefits? If so, you will be automatically enrolled in premium-free Medicare Part A, even if you are working past age 65. Even if you do not meet the work history requirement, you can still enroll in Medicare Part A and pay a premium for coverage.
  • If you (or your spouse) receives low-cost health coverage through an employer with 20 or more employees, you may want to consider waiting to enroll in Medicare Part B. If you delay Part B, you can save on monthly premium costs while you’re still working. 

5. Is Medicare Coverage as Good as My Employer Group Coverage?

The short answer: It depends.

Employer group coverage is often “one size fits all,” meaning you don’t have much choice in your benefits. With Medicare, however, hundreds of plans are offered with a variety of benefits, coverage, and costs. It all comes down to what you choose.

Enrolling in Original Medicare may not cover everything you’re used to receiving through your employer. For example, Original Medicare doesn’t include prescription drug coverage. However, if you choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Supplement plan, you’ll most likely receive the same amount of coverage—if not more—than what you received on your employer health care plan. 

6. I’m Eligible for Veteran’s Benefits. Do I Need Medicare Too?

As a veteran who qualifies for health care benefits, you are not required to enroll in Medicare. However, know that you are also eligible for Medicare, so you can receive benefits through both programs. A Medicare Advantage plan may give you access to a wider network of providers on top of other benefits.

Veterans who sign up for Medicare Advantage will continue to have access to their Tricare health insurance and Veterans Affairs (VA) coverage while receiving prescriptions through the same coverage as before. In addition, Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plans are specially designed to meet the coverage needs of veterans. 

7. If I Enroll in Medicare, Will My Health Savings Account (HSA) Be Affected?

Even after you enroll in either Medicare Part A or Part B, you and your employer’s existing HSA contributions will not be affected. You can still use HSA funds to pay for qualified medical expenses. However, if you are working past age 65 and enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B, you and your employer can no longer contribute to your. If you plan to enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B and are over 65 years old, you must stop contributing to your HSA six months before the date you submit your application or the date when you contact Social Security for your appointment to apply.

8. I’m Not 65 Yet. What Individual Health Insurance Plan Options Are Available? How Much Do They Cost?

Countless individual health insurance plans are available based on your state. Depending on the plan you choose, your required costs can vary. Email our advisors at [email protected] for help narrowing down these options. We’ll help you find the right health coverage for your needs.

9. I’m Eligible for Medicare but My Spouse Is Younger. What Are Their Individual Health Insurance Plan Options?

If your spouse is currently unemployed or ineligible for employer coverage, additional options include:

  • Purchasing an individual health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • Applying for Medicaid, a public health insurance program based primarily on income and family size. Additional criteria for eligibility vary from state to state.
  • Applying for temporary Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) insurance. COBRA allows individuals who have left or lost a job, as well as their dependents, to continue receiving health care coverage.

Contact a RetireMEDiQ advisor to further discuss the coverage options available to your spouse. 

10. What’s the Difference Between a Medicare Advantage Plan and a Supplement?

Medicare Advantage (MA) and Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plans require you to pay copayments and deductibles. MA plans typically have low or no premiums. In addition, individuals on an MA or MAPD plan may receive additional benefits such as vision, hearing, dental, and prescription drug coverage. 

Supplements, also called Medigap, cover only those services included in Original Medicare. As its name suggests, a Medigap plan “fills in the gaps” and covers more costs for Medicare Parts A and B. Supplements often come with wider or no provider networks. Unlike MA plans, Supplements typically have higher premiums, and they do not include prescription drug, dental, vision, or hearing coverage. 

The best way to find out which type of plan is right for you is by calling our advisors. 

Your Local Expert in Medicare

Whether you have questions about when to enroll in Medicare, what coverage is right for your needs, or checking if you’re eligible for Medicare benefits, we have a team of advisors standing by to help. Email your questions to [email protected].

Already a RetireMEDiQ client? Contact your advisor team by emailing [email protected]

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