Medicare Part B and employer insurance

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Q. In a past story, your expert said if you delay Medicare enrollment, you’ll pay a higher premium for the rest of your life unless you were covered by an employer. In that case, you can delay enrolling in Part B without a higher cost. My mother has had insurance coverage through my father’s job before and after the age of 65 without any lapses. Did my father’s employer need to pay his Part B premiums to avoid the penalty? My mother does not have Part B, only insurance through my father’s job.
— Trying to help

A. Medicare rules can be complicated, but we’ve got good news for your mom.

As long as your mom was covered under an employer-provided health benefit as of the date she reached age 65 and was eligible to enroll in Medicare, she will avoid a higher premium for Part B, said Yale Hauptman, an estate planning attorney with Hauptman and Hauptman in Livingston.

She must, however, be continuously covered, he said.

For example, if she enrolls in Part B at age 70 but was only covered by her husband’s employer through age 67, then she would have to pay a higher premium for each year that she could have enrolled but did not and was not covered by the employer’s insurance, Hauptman said.

In that example, he said, it would be three years, during which time the premium goes up 10 percent a year and she is stuck with that increase for her lifetime.

As a side note, the employer does not pay the Part B premium.

“It is deducted from the recipient’s Social Security gross amount,” Hauptman said. “If the reader’s dad is getting health insurance through his employer, then no one is paying the Part B premium nor should they, again, as long as he stays on that plan.”

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