When you enter your sixties, you’re probably in the final stretch of your career before retirement. So at this time you’re learning a lot about Medicare, and sorting through all of the different rules and procedures. One thing that might surprise you to learn is that you’re required to enroll in Medicare at age 65.  You might be even more shocked to learn that you could be penalized for enrolling late!  So, what if you’re not retired yet?  What if you like your current group healthcare plan? Are there any exceptions to this rule?

Actually,  yes. There is one major exception to the enrollment deadline, and it’s quite simple: If you or your spouse are still working for an employer that has more than 20 employees, and you’re covered by their group healthcare plan, you can delay your Medicare enrollment. You aren’t required to enroll until you retire or leave that employer, and are no longer covered by an applicable group healthcare plan. At that point, you can enroll in Medicare and you won’t be subject to the late enrollment penalty.

Another option is to keep that group healthcare plan, but also enroll in Medicare as a secondary policy. Part A coverage is free to most people, but Part B will charge you a premium. You will need to decide if paying the premium is worth the back-up coverage you will gain through Medicare.

Remember that the size of the employer is what matters. If you’re still working but your employer has fewer than 20 employees, you still have to enroll in Medicare at age 65.

As for the penalty, it amounts to 10 percent of your premium for each year that you delay your required enrollment. So if you don’t qualify for an exception to the rule, and you enroll two years late, your premiums will have a 20 percent late penalty fee added to them. This penalty lasts for the rest of your life.

As you can see, it’s very important to make sure you enroll in Medicare on time if you’re required to do so. Call one of our insurance brokers to discuss your situation, and we’ll help you determine whether you qualify for an exception to the deadline. If not, we can help you compare different Medicare plans and select one that suits your needs.