What to know about getting Medicare if you are 65 or older and lost your job
An unfortunate side effect can accompany a job loss: no more employer-subsidized health insurance.
For people age 65 or older in that situation, Medicare is generally the solution. While some in that age group might already have signed up at age 65 when first eligible for coverage, others may have delayed fully enrolling due to qualifying health insurance elsewhere — i.e., through their job (or their spouse’s).
Worse yet, COBRA coverage does not count as qualifying insurance in place of Medicare. And if you miss certain deadlines for enrolling in Medicare without having acceptable coverage, you could pay life-lasting penalties.
And, of course, Medicare is not free.
“Some are surprised that, after working for decades and paying Medicare taxes, they still have to shell out money,” said Elizabeth Gavino, founder of Lewin & Gavino in New York and an independent broker and general agent for Medicare plans.
Here’s what to know.
As long as you have at least a 10-year work history, you pay no premiums for Medicare Part A, which covers hospital stays, skilled nursing, hospice and some home health services. If you don’t meet the qualifications for it being premium-free, you could pay up to $458 per month for coverage.
Either way, Part A has a deductible of $1,408 per benefit period, along with some caps on benefits.
Part B — which covers outpatient care and medical supplies — has a standard monthly premium of $144.60 this year, although higher earners pay more (see chart below). It also comes with a $198 deductible (for 2020). After it’s met, you typically pay 20% of covered services. You get eight months to sign up for Part B once you lose workplace coverage.