Medicare provides health insurance coverage for individuals when they turn 65. However, with people living longer and enjoying good health well past 65, they may choose to continue working while maintaining health coverage from their employers. This can influence whether it is advisable to postpone enrolling in Medicare until a future date.
You can enroll in Medicare when you turn 65, even if you remain covered by an employer-sponsored health plan. However, Medicare would be secondary coverage to your work plan, unless you are no longer working. Although Medicare Part A is free, if you elect to enroll in Medicare Part B and pay the monthly premium, you may be paying for coverage you do not use.
If you are over 65 and elect not to enroll in Medicare Part B because of coverage in an employer plan, it doesn't mean you will have a penalty for enrolling later. Each year, you can still enroll in Part B during the special enrollment period without having to pay the late enrollment penalty.
Losing Health Coverage
You can also enroll in Medicare Part B after age 65 without penalty if you lose your employer-sponsored health coverage. For example, if you choose to retire at age 68, or if you lose your job for other reasons, you can enroll in Part B up to eight months after the end date of your coverage without a penalty.
Depending on your year of birth, you may not be eligible to receive full Social Security benefits until you turn 67, which may influence your decision about when to retire. However, this will not affect your ability to receive Medicare benefits. As of 2010, you can still elect to receive Medicare beginning at age 65, regardless of whether you still work.
In deciding whether to begin receiving Medicare benefits when working past age 65, you should consider the medical coverage offered by your employer as opposed to what Medicare offers. Depending on your situation, it could be better to forgo enrolling in Part B until you no longer have employer-sponsored health insurance.