When Mitt Romney turned 65 on March 12, 2012, he joined nearly all Americans in becoming eligible for Medicare, but Romney declined to enroll. Was this a smart move aside from any political advantage?
You can apply for Medicare three months before turning age 65. If you receive Social Security, you should automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A (which covers hospitalizations and certain less common care) and Part B (which funds most Medicare covered acute and preventive care other than hospitalizations) unless you elect not to take Part B coverage to avoid the premium or you choose a Medicare Part C comprehensive plan in lieu of Parts A and B. In addition to Medicare Parts A and B or Medicare Part C, many Medicare participants opt for Medicare Part D prescription coverage. Some Medicare Part C plans include Medicare Part D drug coverage.
Since Romney isn’t on Social Security, he must apply in order to obtain Medicare and Romney hasn’t done so. Instead he is relying on private health insurance. Aside from possibly incurring higher health care costs than charged for Medicare, Romney may face a late enrollment penalty if he later opts for Medicare.
Where health coverage is part of a group retiree plan offered by a former employer, no penalty is charged when a retiree later enrolls in Medicare Part B. However, most other folks face a stiff late enrollment penalty [10% premium increase for each year of enrollment delay] for turning down Medicare Part B when first eligible [unless, of course, a Part C plan was purchased in place of signing up for Part B].
Because Medicare is complicated, it is important to consider your options early. As health needs change, it can prove beneficial to change from one plan to another. However, Medicare enrollment options are limited except during the short term annual open enrollment period.
FriedmanLaw can help you evaluate Medicare options to make choices that best serve your needs.