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Why Is There a Medicare Part B Late Enrollment Penalty?

Last updated March 19th, 2020

Reviewed by Diane Omdahl

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Unfortunately, there is a Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty.

Medicare rules require you to enroll in Medicare Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period to avoid paying a late enrollment penalty that will be added to your Medicare Part B premiums. (As a reminder, unlike Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B isn’t free. You must pay for it out of your own pocket, or have it deducted from your monthly Social Security check.)

There is an exception made for those who are working (or whose spouse is working) and have coverage sponsored by a company with 20 or employees. Such people can defer Medicare enrollment without penalty.

The Late Enrollment Penalty

The Medicare Part B late-payment penalty amounts to an increase of 10 percent for each 12-month period that you were late enrolling in Medicare Part B. For example, if you were eligible when you turned 65, but didn’t enroll until you turned 67, you will be charged 20 percent more in Medicare Part B premiums as everyone else, for as long as you have Medicare Part B. This penalty doesn’t go away, which is why you need to do everything you can to avoid it.

The Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty is in place to help guide Medicare seniors to enroll in Part B at the right time.

You can read more about the Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty on Medicare.gov.

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