WHILE MEDICARE PART A covers in-patient hospital care and many expenses incurred during the aftermath, Part B covers outpatient care, including doctor’s visits, diagnostic tests and medical equipment. A 20% co-insurance fee is charged for many services provided under Part B.
If you are receiving Social Security benefits, you will be contacted a few months before you turn age 65 with information about Medicare. You will then be automatically enrolled in Part B unless you opt out. Typically, you would want to opt out only if you’re still working and covered by your employer’s plan.
What if you aren’t yet receiving Social Security? If you are retired, you should sign up for Medicare B by contacting Social Security during the seven-month initial enrollment period that starts three months before you turn 65. If you are retired and don’t sign up during this initial enrollment period, your Medicare B premium may be permanently higher when you eventually enroll. That penalty is equal to 10% extra for every 12-month period that you could have been enrolled but weren’t.
What if you are still employed? Signing up at age 65 and paying Part B’s premium may not be necessary if you and—if married—your spouse are covered by your employer’s plan. Instead, you can take advantage of a special eight-month enrollment period that typically starts when your employment ends. If you sign up during this period, you won’t pay a penalty for enrolling late.
Your premium for Part B will be deducted from your Social Security check. What if you aren’t yet receiving Social Security because you’re delaying benefits to get a larger monthly benefit? Instead of writing a check for your Part B premium every month, you can arrange to have the premium automatically deducted from your checking or savings account.
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