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New law would reduce Medicare enrollment mistakes

Written by Joe Baker

These days, many people who turn 65 are still working.  Many are also holding off claiming Social Security benefits until their full benefits kick in. But, many are also delaying claiming Medicare benefits, mistakenly thinking they don’t need it. They do not understand that a decision not to enroll in Medicare can leave them without any coverage and with a premium penalty when they do enroll. The Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification Act, a bi-partisan bill in Congress, would require the government to explain to them when they should enroll in Medicare and reduce Medicare enrollment mistakes.

Even if you or your spouse has employer coverage, you may need to enroll in Medicare Part B when you turn 65 for a variety of reasons. You can read about the rules regarding enrollment in Medicare on Just Care here.

Because people not claiming Social Security benefits at 65 do not receive a notice from the government explaining Medicare enrollment rules, they may mistakenly assume their current health coverage will continue and allow them to enroll in Medicare at a later date. But, that’s often not the case. In 2014, there were 750,000 who were paying 29 percent higher Medicare Part B premiums, on average, than they otherwise would have paid, because they had failed to enroll in Medicare when they should have.

Former Medicare heads as well as more than 70 consumer groups and trade associations support the BENES Act.  If passed, the government would be required to send a notice about Medicare eligibility to people when they turn 65 that helps them understand when they become eligible for Medicare, whether they need to enroll in Medicare to ensure no gaps in their health care coverage and what will happen to their current health care coverage when they turn 65.  It also will explain the risks of delaying enrollment in Medicare in certain situations.  

The BENES Act goes further still and would direct people to a government web site that enables them to enroll in Medicare.

In a letter to Congress, the former heads of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services explain that “Many of the problems addressed by the BENES Act did not exist when most of us were in the government, but the decoupling of eligibility ages for Medicare and full Social Security benefits, revisions to Medicare Secondary Payor law, and the growing number of Americans working past the age of 65 have, together, substantially complicated the decision making process for eligible individuals and couples in deciding when and how to enroll in Medicare.”  

Tell your member of Congress to co-sponsor the BENES Act to help the 10,000 people aging into Medicare each day avoid costly enrollment mistakes. Take action today!

Here’s more from Just Care:

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1 Comment

  • …penalising people for not enrolling in a healthcare programme (as the ACA also does) is just wrong, especially as in this case they are unaware of the situation. As Social Security benefits have not kept pace with rising costs (particularly housing and healthcare) those who are able to continue working to maximise their benefits will do so. This year the medicare premium for new Social Security enrollees has been increased, yet there was no COLA for for benefits to offset this. Many seniors only have Social Security to look forward to due issues like to stagnant low wages, loss of job and long term unemployment during and after the recession (due to the rise of ageism in hiring) and , having savings/retirement plans wiped out during the recession.

    Instead of penalising poor seniors even more, our government should go after closing loopholes which the wealthy use to amass their fortunes and practises which the corporations use to hoard profits without paying taxes. We also need government to get a backbone and stand up to Big Pharma’s gouging of American citizens for needed medications. Due to today’s economic situation, our seniors who retire no longer so so with dignity, but instead into poverty. Hurting them even more is just irresponsible.

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