UNITED STATES—Good day, Toni: We saw your answer about Medicare Part B in an article online and our situation is different. My wife and I will turn 65, me in March and Carol in May. I have signed up for Medicare Part A only and Carol will enroll for Part A soon.

I retired 2 years ago with fantastic retiree benefits for both me and my wife. Currently, I am self-employed and paid as a 1099 contract worker, but I do not have health benefits from that company.

We do not see a need to sign up for Medicare Part B because we are covered under an existing employer retiree plan. Are we correct in this assumption of not enrolling in Part B? Neither the HR department nor Medicare can give us a straight answer.

When do you advise us to sign up for Part B? Thanks, Richard and Carol from Alexander, VA.

Hello Richard and Carol: Great Medicare question… I would advise you to enroll in Part B NOW because both you and Carol are in your Medicare Initial Enrollment period. Not enrolling in Medicare Part B can cause you to experience a “Medicare nightmare.”

I did a Medicare consultation for a person that is also self-employed, but was given wrong advice from a well-meaning friend about delaying his Part B. His Medicare nightmare is now starting…

Medicare recognizes “true” company and union health plans with the Medicare recipient working full- time for that company for the working employee and non-working covered spouse to be able delay Part B without receiving the famous Medicare Part B penalty.

The Medicare and You Handbook states “COBRA and retiree health coverage does not count as current employer coverage.”  Individual health plans also are not considered a current employer coverage for those that are self-employed.

The self-employed person that I consulted with is now 66 and will receive a 10 percent penalty for each year due to not enrolling in Part B at the right time. His penalty will be 20 percent (2 years 65 and 66) each month for as long as he is on Medicare. The 20 percent penalty will increase in cost as the Part B premium increases.

As I said earlier in the article that NOW is you and Carol’s “Medicare Initial Enrollment Period” which is a 7-month period that begins when you turn 65. You and your wife have 3 months before turning 65, the month you turn 65 and 3 months after to enroll in Parts A and B; keeping you and Carol from receiving the Part B 10 percent penalty for each 12-month period which you could have had Part B, but failed to enroll.

I advise anyone who contacts the Toni Says® Medicare team for a personalized Medicare consultation to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B when you are “not working full-time” for a company with true employer benefits. Not working full-time with employer insurance benefits is what Medicare looks for to keep for giving the famous Medicare Part B penalty.

Enroll in Medicare the correct way when you are turning 65 or after 65 retiring from your company because you do not get a second chance. “I didn’t know?” is not a good excuse for Medicare and Medicare will give you a penalty!

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