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Questions about Medicare and employer insurance

Questions about Medicare and employer insurance


Your questions on Medicare and Medicaid answered by the local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) an objective, not-for-profit counseling, assistance and advocacy service sponsored by DPHHS of Montana and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

I am on Social Security Disability (SSDI) and have had Medicare since I was 56 years old.  I am going to turn 65 in the next couple of months.  I know most folks start Medicare at 65 years, but I have had it for a while is there anything I should do?

Even though you have been on Medicare for years, you qualify for the enrollment periods for the elderly when you turn 65 years just like every other senior. This means you can enroll into an elderly Medicare Supplemental plan regardless of your pre-existing health condition for 5 months after your 65th birthday.  Also, if you have a penalty because you delayed your enrollment into Medicare B or prescription drug plan you can re-enroll and will no longer face the on-going penalty.

I am turning 65, still working and have employer insurance. I am wondering what I should do about Medicare?

Most folks can qualify for Medicare at 65 years whether they have started Social Security or not.  If you currently have employer insurance through your work or your spouses’ work, generally that insurance will cover your health care first or be primary. Because you have this coverage you can choose to decline to enroll in either Medicare A and/or Medicare B.  Since Medicare B has a $148.50 monthly premium and will provide little or no additional coverage over the employer insurance, it can make sense to decline Medicare B until you will no longer have the employer insurance. Since you had employer insurance you can enroll in Medicare B at anytime and will not face a penalty for delaying your enrollment.  This penalty protection is only true for individual with active employee insurance. Delaying your enrollment in Medicare B while you have employer insurance also preserves your Medicare Supplement initial enrollment period. During the Medicare Supplement initial enrollment period you are eligible for all Medicare Supplement products and can’t be turned down or be required to pay a higher premium even if you have serious medical conditions. If you are automatically enrolled in Medicare A & B because you have started your Social Security benefit, you can still decline Medicare B by completing the statement on the back of the materials Medicare has sent and returning it to Social Security before the 1st day of the month you will turn 65 years old. If you have any questions about your own situation call the Alliance Resource Center at 406-259-5212 or email

CORRECTION:  In last month’s article on COVID-19 scams I mentioned that the only at-home COVID-19 test was only available by prescription.  Shortly after that information was published FDA announce that a new-at-home COVID-19 test would be available in 2021 that can be purchased at a local pharmacy without a prescription. Please check with your pharmacist for more information.

Do you have a question about Medicare or Medicaid that you would like answered?  Please send your question to SHIP Program c/o Adult Resource Alliance, 1505 Avenue D, Billings, MT 59102 or


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