While people with certain disabilities can go on Medicare at any age, Medicare becomes available for most Americans at age 65. With people living and working longer than in the past, it’s not unusual for someone to work beyond that point. You don't have to enroll at age 65 if you are working and covered. Review your coverage options offered by your employer before making your decision.
Healthcare Coverage Requirements
You are not required to sign up for Medicare when you turn 65 if you have coverage through your work. Your coverage continues through your job as long as your employer has over 20 employees. If your employer has fewer than 20 employees, you may be cut off from insurance once you reach the age of 65, because your employer no longer must provide coverage for you.
Medicare Part A
Medicare Part A is the primary coverage under Original Medicare. Most people don’t have to pay for this coverage. It can be beneficial to enroll in Part A even if you have coverage through work, but check with your employer before you do -- enrolling in Medicare may affect your current coverage. In some situations Medicare pays first when you have a claim, while in other situations your employer-provided coverage pays first.
Medicare Part B
You must pay a monthly premium when you enroll in Medicare Part B. If you have coverage through your employer, you might prefer not to enroll in this coverage and avoid the extra cost. However, review your current coverage carefully -- it may benefit you to sign up for Medicare Part B anyway, as it provides better coverage than some employer plans and may save you money in the long run.
You also will have an open enrollment period during which you can sign up once you retire. Sign up once your open enrollment period is active or you will have to pay higher premiums that increase by 10 percent every year.
Other Medicare Options
Enrolling in the prescription drug coverage – Part D -- of Original Medicare or in a Medicare Advantage plan is optional if you still have coverage through your job. As with Medicare Part B, these options will cost you a monthly premium, so whether or not you enroll in them depends on your personal needs. If you have a serious or chronic condition, or if your coverage through your job leaves something to be desired, enrolling in Part B can make sense -- doing so may provide you with more complete coverage.