Top 6 Mistakes Seniors Make With Medicare Enrollment

Sign up now, save money later

Premiums, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. These are expected costs when it comes to health insurance. What many people do not anticipate are the added fees that come with Medicare, especially when you sign up too late. Medicare Parts A, B and D each has its own set of late penalties. The cost to you could range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars over the life of your Medicare experience. Have you made any of these common mistakes when signing up for Medicare?

You Assume Medicare Enrollment is Automatic

Enrollment Clock
Timing is everything when it comes to Medicare enrollment. Adam Gault/OJO Images/Getty Images

If you actively receive Social Security when you turn 65 years old, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B but not Part D. If you are not yet receiving Social Security benefits, you must enroll for all parts on your own. This tends to trip people up because the retirement age for Social Security benefits is currently set at 67 years old, not 65. 

You Do Not Sign Up for Medicare When You Turn 65

Happy 65th Birthday
You become eligible for Medicare at age 65. GMVozd/E+/Getty Images

You become eligible for Medicare when you turn 65 years old. You can sign up three months before and up to three months after this birthday. Miss this initial enrollment period and you may be on the hook for late penalties for Medicare Parts A, B and D.

You Do Not Sign Up for Medicare Because You Are Still Working

Working Medicare
Are you working after age 65? You may still need to consider enrolling for Medicare. George Shelley Productions/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Some people believe they do not have to sign up for Medicare until they retire and no longer have employer-sponsored health plans. This is true for some but not all. If the company you work for employs less than 20 full-time workers, Medicare will hit you with late penalties when you finally do sign up.

You Do Not Sign Up When You Are Overseas

You could still be eligible for Medicare if you live overseas. Guillaume CHANSON/Moment/Getty Images

If you live overseas, defined as living out of the country for 30 or more consecutive days, and you actively receive Social Security benefits, you may be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A but not Parts B or D. Please note that you may not be able to collect Social Security benefits in all countries. If you live in one of these countries, you will also have to enroll yourself in Part A to avoid late penalties.

You Do Not Sign Up Because You Are a Veteran

Veterans may receive care through the Veterans Health Administration but they may also benefit from Medicare. Catherine Lane/Vetta/Getty Images

The Veterans Health Administration offers health benefits to those who served in the U.S. military. Free care is provided at designated VA hospitals, clinics, and residential facilities. While the VA is aiming to expand care options, there may be times when you do not have access to a VA approved center. Medicare may provide extra coverage to get you the care you need. Not signing up for Medicare in time could cost you in more ways than one.

You Do Not Sign Up When You Are Incarcerated

Being in jail could affect how you enroll in Medicare. Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Healthcare you receive during incarceration is paid for by the penal system, not by Medicare. This does not mean you should skip signing up for Medicare when you become eligible. If you receive Social Security benefits and turn 65 years old while you are incarcerated, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare but timing is everything. Social Security suspends your benefits after 30 days of imprisonment. It could be that you are not automatically enrolled if you have been behind bars too long. This means you will have to enroll yourself or face late penalties once you are released.

Lesson Learned

Medicare is not free. Premiums, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance are part of most any health plan. Late penalties, however, can be avoided. Do not let health care cost you more than necessary. Avoid these common mistakes and save money.

Continue Reading