Medicare Not Easy to Obtain for Retirees Over 65

A new report from Wall Street Journal reveals the difficulties that retirees have with obtaining Medicare if they choose to work past the age of 65. According to the report, those who decide to wait to retire get caught up in a ton of red tape, making the struggle to retire on time or continue to work for money more difficult.

The Challenges of Acquiring Medicare

Most retirees assume that qualifying for Medicare is a simple process – so simple, in fact, that they automatically get enrolled when they retire as long as they’re 65 or older. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The only time that the process is simple is when a retiree is already collecting Social Security benefits when they reach 65 – then they’re automatically enrolled in Medicare. However, if they retire after age 65, there are some loopholes they may fall into.

Loopholes for Retirees Over 65

One problem that many retirees encounter when trying to qualify for Medicare after age 65 is the decision to take COBRA (an extension of employer health care benefits). The only problem is that retirees only get eight months to apply for Medicare after retiring if they’re already 65-years-old. Since COBRA lasts for 18 months, they have no idea that they need to apply.

Then when the COBRA benefits run out, the retirees are left with nothing until they’re able to apply during open Medicare enrollment in January of the following year. Even worse, the benefits don’t kick in until July and even then the retiree is subject to a 10 percent late-enrollment penalty.

The Moral of the Story?

It is extremely difficult to acquire affordable health care without some type of health insurance, be it a company’s plan or Medicare. So it is more important than ever to ensure that you do your homework on when you can enroll in Medicare. Some plans will allow you to enroll even while you’re still working. And those that don’t will require you to enroll within eight months of leaving your job to avoid a delay in insurance and a penalty.

If you would like to stay with your own company’s insurance through COBRA after retiring, hopefully you can time your enrollment in Medicare so that it can start just as your COBRA benefits end. No matter what route you choose, it’s good to stay informed so that you don’t end up having to go without much-need health insurance coverage.