Medicare While Still Working

You can get Medicare while you are still working. To be eligible for Medicare, you must be 65 but do not need to be retired. There are some benefits to getting Medicare while you’re still in the workforce, especially if you’re eligible for premium-free Part A. You can also avoid some of the penalties associated with not enrolling on time.

Do You Have To Sign Up for Medicare at 65 if You Are Still Working?

You do not have to sign up for Medicare if you are still working. You may already receive coverage that you prefer through your employer, or maybe you aren’t ready. But while you must be 65 to be eligible for Medicare, you are not required to get it.

Keep in mind that there are situations where you may want to sign up for Medicare. According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, you should sign up if you work at a company with 20 or fewer employers to avoid a coverage gap. If your coverage through your job is not employer group health plan coverage, then you should sign up to avoid a Part B penalty later.

While your current work status doesn’t affect your Medicare eligibility, your work history does. You typically must have worked for 10 years and paid Medicare taxes to be eligible for premium-free Part A. This distinction can play a significant role in whether you should sign up for Medicare while working since Part A will be much more expensive.

The Benefits of Signing Up for Medicare While Working

According to AARP, more than 20 percent of Americans 65 or older are still in the workforce. That means that millions of people must make a tough decision on when to enroll in Medicare. Even if you have health coverage through an employer, there are benefits to signing up while still employed.

Part A

If you have worked for at least 10 years and paid Medicare taxes, then it may make a lot of sense for you to get Part A while still employed since it will be premium-free. Part A covers inpatient care and hospital stays, which can be a massive expense.

If there is no premium associated with receiving coverage, there’s really no downside to getting Part A while you are still in the workforce.

Part B

The benefit of getting Part B while still working is that it offers a variety of coverage, such as outpatient care, treatments and services related to a wide range of conditions and equipment. It may be worth it to get this coverage as soon as you can if there is something in particular that you want to be covered.

Unique Scenarios

Medicare rules can be a little complex, and there are some unique scenarios with getting Medicare while still in the workforce. If you have COBRA coverage, then you should sign up for Medicare when you turn 65.

This is also the case if you are expecting to lose your employer health insurance at any point in the near future.

Also, remember that there are also certain enrollment windows for Medicare. If you are a veteran or former military member who receives coverage through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, you should sign up as soon as you turn 65.

If you have a different or private health plan currently, check with your plan provider to determine what the best option is for you.

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The Drawbacks of Signing Up for Medicare and Working

If you are not eligible for premium-free Part A, then you could be adding a significant expense to your monthly budget. Part B, while offering a lot of coverage, can also be pricey, especially if you have a higher level of income.

Important Enrollment Windows and Penalties To Consider

It’s important to remember that there are windows for when you can enroll in Medicare, and you can be penalized for missing these windows. This can affect you if you decline Medicare coverage when you are first eligible, since there are penalties for missing that first window.

If you aren’t getting premium-free Part A, your eventual premium can increase by 10 percent if you don’t buy Part A when it’s first available. For Part B, your premium can increase by 10 percent for every 12 months that you were eligible for Part B but didn’t enroll.

Last Modified: October 7, 2021

6 Cited Research Articles

  1. Edelson, H. (2019, April) AARP. More Americans working past 65. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/work/employers/info-2019/americans-working-past-65.html
  2. AARP. (n.d.). I am a veteran health care coverage from the VA system. Do I need Medicare as well? Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-qa-tool/does-medicare-work-with-veterans-coverage/
  3. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Part A late enrollment penalty. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/part-a-costs/part-a-late-enrollment-penalty
  4. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Part B late enrollment penalty. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/part-b-costs/part-b-late-enrollment-penalty
  5. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). Who is eligible for Medicare? Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/answers/medicare-and-medicaid/who-is-elibible-for-medicare/index.html
  6. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Working Past 65. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/basics/get-started-with-medicare/medicare-basics/working-past-65