Why You Might Want To Have Both Medicare And Your Employer's Plan For The Next Few Years

You become eligible for Medicare at 65 years of age (with an enrollment period that starts slightly before your birthday), but if you're still working for an employer who offers a regular health insurance plan, do you have to give that up? No. You can, or you can delay signing up for Medicare. But some people opt to keep their employer insurance and get either Medicare Part A (with special arrangements to sign up for Part B later) or Medicare Parts A and B. It sounds complicated, but you may want to seriously consider doing this yourself.

You Could Have More of Your Costs Paid For

When you have both Medicare and your employer plan, the two plans coordinate so that one pays first and the other pays second. If you had medical care, the primary payer would pay according to their benefits. Then the secondary payer would look at what costs are left and pay some of those. There's no guarantee you'd have everything paid for, but the chance of having more paid for by the secondary payer is pretty good. That can be a relief when you are faced with medical bills.

The Transition Between Plans Is Less Abrupt

Switching from a "normal" employer-provided health insurance plan to Medicare can be strange for many. The way Medicare works and what you have to buy and pay for each month is noticeably different from how the employer plan worked, and there's a lot of room for misunderstandings and mistakes. When you have both plans, the transition is less abrupt; it's only if you're in a situation where Medicare would be the primary payer that the change might seem a bit odd. But you'd still have your employer plan to cover additional costs.

Take Dental and Vision Insurance Into Account

Medicare has a lot of advantages, and you may decide in the end to drop your employer coverage and use Medicare only. However, if your employer coverage includes dental and vision insurance, don't drop the employer coverage yet. As of this writing, Medicare does not include coverage for vision or dental health. You could get separate policies for those two independent of other coverage, but why spend that money when you could have an entire comprehensive policy from your employer?

The most important thing about choosing whether to have one or both plans is to make sure you don't miss any application deadlines. You could face financial penalties if you sign up for Medicare late and without making arrangements for a special enrollment period. Start the moment you see that your eligibility date is approaching and call a local medicare health insurance plan provider if you have questions.