Published July 28, 2020
Medicare enrollment can be confusing, and it can come with some potentially significant financial consequences if you don’t get it right.
A bill making its way through Congress aims to help beneficiaries avoid costly late enrollment penalties, coverage gaps and general confusion around Medicare enrollment.
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The Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act cleared a House committee on July 15, setting up a vote by the full chamber.
Most people become eligible for Medicare at age 65. If they already collect Social Security by that age, they will typically be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) are known together as “Original Medicare” and are provided by the federal government.
Seniors who choose to delay Social Security retirement benefits past age 65, however, are not automatically enrolled in Medicare when they turn 65. These beneficiaries must go through a manual process to sign up for Medicare, and many may not be aware they need to do so.
The issues of late Medicare enrollment and resulting fees grow larger every year. In 2002, 92% of 65-year-olds collected Social Security (SSA) benefits. In 2016, that number had shrunk to just 60%.
Part of the reason for this growing delay is that the age to qualify for full benefits has increased, with who turn 65 in 2020 needing to wait until they are 66 to collect their full SSA retirement benefits.
Another reason is that an increasing number of older adults are remaining in the workforce and delaying their retirement.
Add up these factors, and you have more senior adults who are not collecting Social Security and thus not being automatically enrolled in Medicare.
The BENES Act would implement a number of procedures to help better protect seniors and Medicare beneficiaries:
“The intent was for all those health bills in the committee markup to be nonpartisan and noncontroversial,” said Lindsey Copeland, federal policy director for the advocacy group Medicare Rights Center in an article published by CNBC. “We hope the (BENES Act) makes it to the floor pretty easily.
Learn more about how Medicare is changing and stay up to date by reading more Medicare news.
Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with MedicareAdvantage.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.
Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.
Christian has written hundreds of articles for MedicareAvantage.com that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.
Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.
A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at Mike@tzhealthmedia.com.