Understanding When to Enroll in Medicare

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For most people, Medicare eligibility begins at age 65. But the best time for you to enroll may be more complicated than that. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.

Medicare and Your Retiree Health Plan

Medicare comes in several parts. Part A covers inpatient hospital services and has no monthly premium cost. Part B covers outpatient medical services and has a monthly premium cost. The university does not recommend enrolling in Part D (prescription drug coverage) except if (1) you are retired or on long-term disability and (2) you apply and are approved for Medicare low-income prescription drug assistance.

In general, Medicare becomes the primary coverage once you are 65 and retired from U-M. However, Medicare eligibility may occur earlier due to disability.

It’s very important to enroll in Medicare in a timely fashion. Once you are eligible for Medicare and retired from U-M, your U-M retiree health plan becomes secondary coverage. It will not pay for anything that Medicare would cover if you were enrolled.  This is the case even if you delay Medicare enrollment because you have coverage through another employer.

You may also have to pay a penalty for late Medicare enrollment of 10 percent a year for each year you could have been enrolled.

If You Are Still Working at U-M When You Turn 65

If you are still working at the university when you turn 65, your U-M health plan will continue as your primary coverage until you retire.

For your own Medicare coverage, you can wait until retirement to apply for both Medicare Parts A and B. You should apply no later than the end of the month in which you retire. If you prefer, you can apply for Medicare Part A when you turn 65 (it’s free) and wait until retirement to apply for Medicare Part B.

If You Retire From U-M Before Age 65

If you have already retired from U-M and are receiving Social Security benefits when you turn 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. If you are not yet receiving Social Security, it’s a good idea to apply for Medicare Parts A and B three months before you turn 65 (or whenever first eligible due to either age or disability).

Your Dependent Spouse, Other Qualified Adult (OQA) or Other Medicare-Eligible Dependent

If your dependent spouse is age 65 or older when you retire, they should apply for Medicare Parts A and B by the end of the month in which you retire. If your dependent spouse is younger than 65 when you retire, they should apply three months before they turn 65 or whenever they first become eligible due to age or disability.

If you cover an Other Qualified Adult (OQA) on your health plan, your OQA must apply for Medicare Parts A and B three months before they turn 65 or whenever first eligible due to age or disability. This is the case regardless of your age and whether or not you have retired.

If you cover another dependent who is already eligible for Medicare when you retire, they should apply by the end of the month in which you retire. If your dependent is not already eligible for Medicare when you retire, they should apply whenever they first become eligible due to age or disability.

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