Getting a Medicare Part B refund

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Q. The executive director of our organization retires at the end of February. Over the past 10 years, he has been paying premiums for Medicare Part B even though he has also been covered by our group plan. If he never made a claim for Medicare, can he claim a refund of his Medicare Part B premiums?
— Looking for savings

A. Your director probably thought he was starting his Medicare Part B premiums early for a good reason.

Generally, you should enroll in Medicare Part B and start paying a premium when you turn age 65, said Yale Hauptman, an estate planning attorney with Hauptman and Hauptman in Livingston.

“If you delay your enrollment, you will pay a higher premium for the rest of your life,” he said. “The longer you delay your enrollment, the higher the premium.”

But there’s an exception to the rule.

If you have been covered by an employer-provided benefit, you can delay enrolling in Part B without incurring the higher cost, Hauptman said.

As far as getting a refund, there is an appeal process for challenging the amount of your premium.

In 2008, the Part B premium began to be indexed to the beneficiary’s income with higher income beneficiaries paying higher premiums, Hauptman said. This determination is based on the previous two years of tax returns and the appeal process allows for beneficiaries to challenge an incorrect assessment.

“Perhaps he can challenge the payment of any Part B premiums at all because he had employer-provided health coverage but it’s probably a long shot,” Hauptman said. “I know of no process to get a refund of premiums and be able to go as far back as 10 years.”

Hauptman recommends he check with an insurance specialist who sells Medicare supplemental plans, or he can call Medicare itself.

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