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Medicare is a federal healthcare program designed to serve people over the age of 65, or those on SSDI.

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Every day, those turning 65 and those already qualified for Medicare turn to us to learn more about their Medicare options.

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Most Popular Questions About Medicare

Q: I’m Turning 65. Can I Get Medicare While Still Working?

If you’re still working at 65, and you’re eligible for Medicare, you may not have to sign up right away; however, we highly recommended signing up for Medicare as soon as you’re eligible. If you don’t closely follow the rules that allow you to postpone enrollment in Medicare, you may face significant financial penalties when you do enroll.

Selectively Enrolling in Medicare

Remember, Medicare is split into two sections – Part A and Part B. Together, this is the federal insurance program also referred to as “Original Medicare”. While you don’t have to enroll in Medicare while still working, you might want to enroll in at least Medicare Part A while postponing Part B.

Occasionally, 65-year-olds enroll in Part A (which includes premium-free hospital coverage) and delay enrolling in Part B (which includes outpatient care and has considerable monthly premiums). There are also other aspects of the Medicare program, such as prescription drug coverage and private supplementary coverage, but they require both Part A and Part B first.

If you’re receiving Social Security benefits, then you’ll have to sign up for Medicare Part A even if you delay enrolling in Medicare Part B.

You Can Safely Delay Medicare Part B Enrollment If:

  1. You’re enrolled in a health insurance plan through your current employer, or your spouse’s current employer, AND
  2. The employer has 20 employees or more, AND
  3. The employer offers “creditable coverage”, or coverage with benefits that are at least equivalent to Medicare.
    1. You’ll want to confirm, in writing, that the coverage you’re using is creditable coverage. Contact your employer, insurance company, or Social Security if possible.

If you meet the above conditions, then you can delay enrolling in Medicare for up to 8 months after you (or your spouse, if you’re receiving coverage through them) have stopped working at the job that provides your current insurance.

You’ll have to enroll in person at your Social Security office once you do want to receive Medicare, since this scenario usually can’t be handled over the phone or online.

You Should Sign Up Right Away If:

  • You get health insurance from an employer with fewer than 20 employees;
  • You’re enrolled in individual health insurance, like an Obamacare plan;
  • You rely on a Christian health ministry, short-term insurance, or no insurance at all;
  • You’re using COBRA, retiree insurance, or health insurance from a previous job; or
  • You have VA health coverage.

Nearly all Americans over the age of 65 are enrolled in premium-free Medicare Part A, including all Social Security beneficiaries.

Instead of delaying enrollment, you could opt out of Medicare forever if you really wanted to. You’d need to speak with Social Security to opt out entirely, but this is rarely done.

It’s safe to postpone your coverage if you’re comfortable doing so. You’ll want to consider the financial implications of doing so first, since most Medicare beneficiaries are satisfied with their coverage and healthcare costs.

You Can Still Get Supplemental Coverage When You Do Join

You can generally join Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage without penalty within a few months of getting both Medicare Part A and Part B for the first time. Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage are two very important programs which help pay your out-of-pocket Medicare costs.

Taking the Next Steps

You can see if your current health insurance will allow you to postpone Medicare enrollment. If Medicare turns out to be a better option for your needs, browse our selection of Medicare Supplement plans to find coverage that will last a lifetime.

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Q: Are Medicare Part B Premiums Tax-Deductible?

Yes, your monthly Medicare Part B premiums are tax-deductible.

Insurance premiums are one of many items that qualify for the medical expense deduction. Since it’s not mandatory to enroll in Part B, you can be rewarded for choosing to pay this medical expense.

You can only benefit from the medical expense deduction by following specific rules. You’ll need to file your taxes in a certain way, itemizing your deductions instead of choosing the standard deduction. Additionally, your medical expense deductions only begin to count after they surpass 10 percent or more 7.5 percent of your Adjusted Gross Income (Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, is your total pre-tax income before certain non-itemized deductions such as health savings account spending).

The medical expense threshold was lowered to 7.5 percent for 2017 and 2018 due to a major tax law change.

Depending on the circumstances, you may be better served by not deducting medical expenses. You may only want to deduct medical expenses in one year, and not another.

However, if you’re actively self-employed, you can deduct your entire health insurance premium. You’ll have the opportunity to do so even if you don’t itemize your deductions. This deduction will be entered on your Form-1040, and not shunted along with your other medical deductions on a Form 1040-A.

A tax deduction – like the well-known medical expense deduction – won’t exactly pay your taxes directly. Instead, tax deductions reduce the amount of money that you have to pay taxes on. Choosing to take the medical expense deduction gives you a write-off that will ultimately reduce, but not erase, the taxes that you owe.

Taking the Next Steps

Keep collecting bills or receipts for your medical expenses. You can see if you’ll want to aim for a medical expense deduction by reviewing your spending and income for the current year. More importantly: this is not tax advice – speak with a qualified tax professional to learn more.

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Q: Does My Health Insurance Cover Walkers, Wheelchairs, and Other Walking Aids?

Walking aids, such as walkers, canes, scooters, and wheelchairs, help you perform daily tasks if you have a mobility impairment. Doctors can prescribe walking equipment if you need extra assistance to move around.

Today, suppliers offer a wide variety of walking aids to alleviate your pain or adapt to your specific needs. Some devices can also serve as rehabilitative equipment that can strengthen your ability to move unassisted.

Depending on the walking device, prices can vary. Out-of-pocket expenses can range anywhere from $20 to $5,000 or more. Once you are prescribed equipment at your doctor’s office, urgent care, or hospital, your health plan can help cover costs so you can quickly get around.

Health Insurance and Walking Aids

A prescribed walking device may be covered depending on your health plan as a form of durable medical equipment, or DME. Examples of DME include:

  • Canes
  • Crutches
  • Wheelchairs
  • Walkers

In order for your health insurer to cover costs for a walking aid, you will need a doctor’s prescription. That prescription helps your insurer verify your walking aid is “medically necessary”, since health insurers can’t pay for cosmetic items. If your plan does provide DME coverage, you’ll only pay for a small portion for the equipment, also known as your copayment or coinsurance.

Before purchasing medical devices, check that your equipment supplier participates in your health insurance plan. If they are in-network, you can save on out-of-pocket costs. Depending on your illness or injury, you may be able to rent medical supplies. Otherwise, you’ll be asked to purchase your equipment on your own.

Because health insurance companies aren’t required to cover certain medical supplies under the Affordable Care Act, costs vary from case to case. You can look at your expected copay or coinsurance and decide whether or not to use your insurance. However if you choose to purchase a walking device without going through your insurer, it’s up to you to pay for expenses.

Depending on your health status and ability to walk, your doctor can recommend different walking aids. He or she will assess your needs and can provide you with resources to help you adjust to your new tools. By learning more about financial costs, you can quickly understand your share of costs as you plan for the future.

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