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Dear Matt,

I turn 65 in a few months but plan to keep working. How do I decline or drop Medicare Part B if I stay on my employer’s health insurance plan? I don’t need to have Medicare Part B if I have “real” insurance provided by my employer, do I?

Thanks,

Lucas M.


 

Lucas,

Thanks for the question, and you’re not alone. A recent study found nearly half of seniors (46%) said they plan on working part time or picking up a side job during their retirement. This is just one example of many where two separate government agencies (Social Security and Medicare) interact.

Social Security and Signing Up for Medicare

If you’ve deferred your Social Security benefits until your full retirement age (66/67) or until the maximum age of 70, you’d have to proactively sign up for Medicare at Social Security. When you do, just sign up for Medicare Part A and not Medicare Part B.

If you are already collecting Social Security retirement benefits before you turn 65, you’ll automatically get Original Medicare Part A and Original Medicare Part B from Medicare in a packet of information sent to you in the mail. You’ll generally get this in the mail around three months before your 65th birthday.

Send Your Medicare Card Back

If you’re still working past 65 and have health insurance through your employer, you can waive your Medicare Part B by following the instructions in that welcome packet and physically sending your Medicare card back.

You MUST send your Medicare card back if you want to tell Medicare and Social Security you’re declining Medicare Part B. If you keep the card, you are agreeing to keep Medicare Part B, and Medicare will start charging you the monthly Medicare Part B premium.

Contact Social Security and Tell Them You Wish to Waive Medicare Part B

If you get Medicare Part B in the mail, have signed up for Medicare, go back to work, and want to disenroll from Medicare Part B, you’ll have to contact Social Security.

Local Social Security offices are finally opening back up for in-person appointments. This includes walk-up appointments, but due to backlogs, I definitely wouldn’t recommend just showing up unless you’re prepared to wait for hours. In fact, they’re actively dissuading people from in-person appointments.

However, Social Security also says dropping Medicare Part B is a big deal, and they may have to have what’s called a “personal interview” with a Social Security representative so you don’t mess up your Medicare coverage.

Any time you interact with Social Security, you should ALWAYS send in requests in writing, make sure you keep copies of everything you’re told, and fill out at Social Security. If you speak to them over the phone, make notes and date them.

That said, if you’re dropping Medicare Part B, I’d recommend you call and do it over the phone. They’ll likely ask you to fill out a form explaining why you’d like to drop Medicare Part B, which you can find here.

Be forewarned, chronic telephone problems have plagued Social Security for years and were exacerbated by moving to online, email, and telephone-only during the pandemic.

Last time I called Social Security, which was for a blog post I wrote a while back, I repeatedly got disconnected or was connected to scratchy telephone lines. It took me four attempts to get a clean line and to a point I could talk to a human, but I immediately got hung up on when I went into a queue. I eventually gave up and just emailed them.

Good luck!

 

One last note, Lucas. If you’re dropping Medicare Part B and keeping Medicare Part A, Medicare will send you a new Medicare card showing you have only Part A coverage.

 

I love answering Medicare questions. Send me yours at questions@prepareformedicare.com, and I’ll pick a few for a future blog post!

To your wealth, wisdom, and wellness!

-Matt Feret

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Author Bio Matt Feret is the author of the Prepare for Medicare book series and launched prepareformedicare.com to help people get objective answers to questions about Medicare. Matt is also the host of The Matt Feret Show. He has held leadership roles at numerous Fortune 500 Medicare health insurers in sales, marketing, operations, product development, and strategy for over two decades.