Q & A

Tricare: What are the implications of Medicare Part B enrollment?

Full Question: I am retired from the Air National Guard, enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B and using Tricare for Life. My wife will soon turn 65. She has a health plan provided by her employer and intends to keep working for a while longer. She just received a letter from Tricare about enrolling in Part B. If she chooses to wait until she retires to enroll in Part B, will she be penalized by Tricare? I faced the same situation when I turned 65 — I was told I would incur Tricare penalties if I did not sign up for Part B. The information from Tricare is contradictory and confusing on this subject.

Answer: It’s not accurate to say that Tricare “penalizes” people who don’t sign up for Medicare Part B at age 65. Rather, Medicare-eligible people over 65 who choose not to sign up for Part B simply cannot use their Tricare benefits until they do. Part B enrollment and payment of the monthly Part B premiums are bedrock requirements of Tricare eligibility for over-65 beneficiaries.

Generally, Medicare does charge a monetary penalty to people who turn 65 and don’t sign up for Part B when they first become eligible, but then decide to enroll later. This “late enrollment penalty” is equal to 10 percent of the Part B premium for each year that a beneficiary was eligible to sign up but for whatever reason chose not to. Read more…

Source: ArmyTimes, July 17, 2014

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