If you are like many physicians, you may plan on practicing well past your 65th birthday. For many physicians, medicine is more than a career, it is a calling. There are few professions as emotionally, intellectually, and financially rewarding as medicine. So, it is understandable why after decades refining your skills and improving countless lives, you may not yet be ready to stop doing what you love.
However, if you are planning to continue working past 65, be sure to consider how Medicare could factor into your plans – even if you currently have health insurance through your job.
Physicians Working in a Larger Practice or Hospital Setting
If you work in a hospital or medical practice with more than 20 employees, you may not be required to sign up for Original Medicare at age 65. Depending on the provisions in your benefits package, you may be able to stay on your group health plan until you are ready to retire without facing late enrollment penalties. Or you may decide to drop your employer’s health plan in favor of Medicare, or some combination of these two options. As long as your employer’s plan is considered “creditable coverage,” you could delay signing up for Medicare without facing late-enrollment penalties.
However as soon as you leave the employer or are no longer eligible for their group plan, you will become subject to various deadlines to sign up or else you will face penalties. One of the very first steps you should take as soon as you lose employer coverage is sign up for Medicare. If you sign up within what is referred to as your “initial enrollment period,” you will be protected from late enrollment penalties.
Once you sign up for Original Medicare and have both Part A and Part B coverage in place, the next thing you should do is contact TMA Insurance Trust to discuss your Medicare supplement options. Although you aren’t required to have supplement insurance, it is usually in your best interests to do so. There are many costs that are not covered under Medicare and those uncovered health expenses could have a serious impact on your retirement savings.
A TMA Insurance Trust insurance advisor will work with you to help you understand the best Medicare Supplement plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans that fit your needs. This free, no obligation consultation could help you save hundreds of dollars each year in out of pocket medical and prescription drug costs.
Solo Practitioners and Physicians Working in Small Practices
If you are a solo practitioner or work in a practice with fewer than 20 employees, your situation is different. In order to avoid penalties and fees, you should sign up for Medicare Parts A and B as soon as you are eligible. Even if you have group insurance through your employer, under current Medicare rules, your Medicare plan will be considered your primary insurance. Even if you choose to stay on your employer plan, it will become the secondary payer.
Once you become Medicare-eligible, you may want to reconsider participating in an employer health plan. In many cases, Original Medicare plus a Medicare supplement plan may provide better coverage at a lower cost than your current small group plan.
To help you determine which option is best for you, please feel free to contact one of our insurance advisors. They will be happy to run quotes to help you determine which option will save you the most money. This consultation is free, with no sales pressure.
Don’t Miss Out on Your Guaranteed Acceptance Window
There is another very important reason to sign up for a Medicare supplement plan as soon as you are eligible. If you age 65 or older, and you sign up for a Medicare supplement plan or Medicare Part D within 63 days of when you lose or end your employer health coverage, you will receive what are known as “guaranteed issue rights.”
This means that if you secure a Medicare supplement plan within this critical 63-day window, the insurance company must offer you a policy at the best available rate, regardless of your health. You cannot be turned down or denied coverage. They also cannot impose a waiting period or charge you more because of your health.
Insurance is Complicated, Getting Help is Simple
Everyone’s situation is different. TMA Insurance Trust has helped hundreds of physicians across Texas with their health insurance questions. If you have questions about Medicare supplement insurance or Medicare Part D, our advisors are standing by to help. Contact us today.
For over 60 years, TMA Insurance Trust advisors have been serving Texas physicians, their families and staff. TMA Insurance Trust prides itself on offering unbiased information and strategies to members, along with exclusive group rates on a range of the highest-rated plans in the industry.