Medicare Part A is the part of Medicare that covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and home health care. For most people, there is no premium associated with Medicare Part A. People who are receiving Social Security benefits or are on Medicare disability will be enrolled in Part A automatically at age 65. For most everyone else, because there is no premium for this coverage, enrolling in Part A may be beneficial.
That said, you can choose to delay Medicare Part A at age 65. However, it is important to note that Medicare and Social Security are connected. So, if you do not enroll in Part A, you also cannot participate in Social Security. If you are receiving Social Security benefits and choose to waive Part A, you will have to repay any benefits you have already received.
Who May Want to Consider Not Enrolling In Medicare Part A?
Those not receiving Social Security benefits who have a high-deductible group health plan and contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA) should consider postponing Part A enrollment. Once enrolled, they would no longer be eligible to make contributions.
What About Medicare Part B?
Medicare Part B DOES have a premium ($144.60 for 2020, an increase of $9.10 from $135.50 in 2019).1 Therefore, choosing whether to delay enrollment in Part B is the more pertinent question for most people. Medicare does have late enrollment penalties that apply if you are not currently covered by a credible group health plan connected to current employment, so you should make yourself aware of those penalties before making this decision.
However, if you do have group coverage that is primary to Medicare (20 or more employees), delaying Medicare Part B may make sense, and you will not face the late enrollment penalty for Part B as long as you start Part B within eight months of losing that group coverage or the related employment.