Should I enroll in Medicare if I'm still working past age 65?

Can I stay on my employer's health insurance after the age of 65?

Yes. Federal Law requires that employers offer to their employees age 65 or over the same coverage offered to employees under age 65. If the employer offers health care coverage to spouses, the same coverage must be offered regardless of age.

Am I required to enroll in Medicare if I keep working?

If you are still working and covered under your employer's or union's health insurance, you are not required to enroll in Medicare at age 65. 

Can I cancel my employer's health insurance and enroll in Medicare instead?

You are free to reject the employer plan coverage, in which case Medicare would be primary. When Medicare is the primary payer, employers cannot offer a supplemental plan that pays for services covered by Medicare.

What happens if I keep my employer's health insurance and enroll in Medicare too?

If there are more than 20 employees covered on the plan, it would be primary. As the secondary payer, Medicare pays up to what it would have paid as primary payer. You may elect to enroll only in Medicare Part A, the hospital portion. It is premium-free for most people. Be aware that if you enroll in Part A OR Part B, it will start the clock ticking for the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. If your employer offers "creditable" prescription coverage (equal to or better than Medicare's), you may delay the Part D enrollment without penalty.

How do I decide?

It is best to learn about Medicare's benefits and premiums. Then, compare it to your employer's plan. How much do you pay? What does it cover? Would the Medicare benefits justify paying monthly Part B premiums ($115.40 for most people joining in 2011)?

I've heard there is a penalty if I don't enroll in Medicare when I turn 65.

If covered under an employer's group health plan, you will have 8 months from the time your coverage ends to enroll in Medicare Part B without penalty. For Medicare Part D, you will have 63 days.

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