Many seniors have spent years pursuing a career they love and just aren’t ready to let it go. These seniors may want to continue working and postpone their retirement as they approach the age of 65. However, healthcare options can tend to get a bit confusing if you don’t retire at the age of 65. This is the age when Medicare eligibility kicks in and you may be wondering how postponing retirement will affect your healthcare. Continue reading to learn more about what to do if this is your case.

Key Takeaways

  • You can (and should) enroll in Medicare Part A as soon as you are eligible, regardless of your working status.
  • If you actively work for a company with 20 or more employees, you have several healthcare plan options. If your company has fewer than 20 employees, you will likely have to choose Medicare Part B.
  • Those enrolled in Part A who want prescription drug coverage – but can’t get it through their employer – can (and should) enroll in Part D.
  • A Medicare Advantage plan will replace your employer’s health plan and give you all Part A, B, and D benefits.
  • It’s possible to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period and enroll in Medicare Part B at a later date, but only under specific circumstances.

Can You Postpone Retirement and Still Enroll in Medicare?

In short, yes! Medicare is still available to those who work and workers over 65 should strongly consider enrolling in Medicare Part A. Part A comes with many benefits for your healthcare but also for enrollment in the future. Signing up for Part A on time is the best way to secure a Special Enrollment Period for when you are ready to switch to Part B instead of an employer plan. Additionally, signing up for Part A while you are still in the workforce can still be premium-free. If you’ve been working for 10 years (40 quarters), you will still be eligible for Part A at no cost. You are essentially getting more coverage, but at no extra cost.

Working Seniors and Medicare Part B

Seniors who enroll in Medicare will have to make the choice between working and staying on their employer’s plan, or retiring and enrolling in Medicare Part B. If you actively work for a company with 20 or more employees, you have several healthcare plan options. If your company has fewer than 20 employees, you will likely have to choose Medicare Part B. Keep in mind that enrolling in Part B alongside your employer health plan is also an option.

If you choose to obtain both health plans, Medicare Part B would be the primary payer for your coverage. Your secondary payer would be your employer. If your employer still offers your insurance plan past the age of 65 and they have good coverage for your needs and lifestyle, putting them as your secondary payer may turn out to be more costly for you. If this is your case, you must first compare both coverage plans before deciding on enrolling to Medicare Part B. Do not enroll for Part B even if your employer offers comprehensive coverage just in the fear that you will need to pay late enrollment penalties. You can opt for a special enrollment period for Part B once you retire and lose your employer’s coverage.

Working Seniors and Medicare Part D

Regardless of your working status, it is also recommended to enroll in Medicare Part D. Part D is the plan that provides coverage for prescription drugs. To qualify for Part D, you must be enrolled in Medicare Part A at least. Making enrollment simple for those who continue to pursue an active working lifestyle. Depending on what plan you choose, there will be a monthly premium that can vary in cost. If your employer health plan already offers coverage for prescription drugs, Part D may not be necessary for you.

Medicare Advantage and Working Seniors

Medicare Advantage is a bundle of Medicare products that includes Part A, Part B, and Part D benefits. If you continue working and choose to enroll in Medicare Advantage, keep in mind that it will replace your employer’s coverage. This has the same process as if you were to get Medicare Part B alongside your employer’s coverage. Unlike Medicare Part B, Advantage plans come with many additional benefits such as dental and vision plans and may offer more coverage than your current employer. To determine which plan you want, identify which plan offers you the best coverage at the best pricepoint. With Medicare Advantage, you cannot dual-enroll in both Medicare and your employer’s insurance plan as you would be able to with Original Medicare.

Active Employment vs. Retiree Benefits

There are different benefits seniors can receive whether they’re actively working or deciding to retire. The main benefit that creates a huge impact on your healthcare plans is the enrollment period technicalities associated with both. If you or your spouse are actively working, meaning your employer coverage does not come from retiree benefits or COBRA, then you are exempt from late enrollment periods and are assigned a Special Enrollment Period when you do decide to join Medicare Part B. If you are already retired and enjoying employer-benefits while retired, that does not count as being actively employed and if you choose to delay enrollment in Medicare, you will need to pay late enrollment penalties.

Deciding whether or not to retire or continue working is a huge milestone in your life. Be sure to compare benefits between your current employer-sponsored coverage and Medicare to obtain the best coverage for you. If you are unsure where to start, make sure to consult a health insurance expert or for clarification of your benefits.