Depending on the terms of your health insurance plan, you may be obligated to apply for and receive Medicare now. Most likely, you won’t lose your employer-sponsored insurance even after you start receiving Medicare, but that insurance may become secondary to the Medicare coverage. If you have a costly health issue and the insurance carrier determines that you should have been receiving Medicare but you failed to sign up, the insurance carrier may deny all or a major part of your claim, leaving you with a hefty bill that could have been avoided.
Don’t wait until you lose your job to determine if you should be receiving Medicare. This will add to the complications of losing your job. Most employees who work for companies with 20 or more workers are entitled to continue their insurance for at least 18 months under a federal law called COBRA and NY residents who work for smaller employers may be eligible for insurance continuation under a state law. However, harmonizing COBRA and Medicare is very tricky and cannot always be smoothly accomplished. If you do lose your job, regardless of whether you take COBRA continuation coverage, a delay in signing up for Medicare could lead to a penalty. So do not delay. For more information on COBRA, see our January 6, 2012 blogpost.