Should You Decline Medicare Part B?

In the past month, two former clients contacted me about major problems that they are experiencing because they declined Medicare Part B years ago.

One was collecting on her husband's excellent insurance policy and she felt she did not need her own Medicare Part B coverage. Now her husband is retiring and she is not entitled to lifelong coverage, only COBRA benefits.

The second party has excellent insurance coverage from his prior employer. He was under the impression that his carrier knew he declined the Medicare Part B but now, ten years later, his private insurance carrier advised him that he in fact was required to keep the Medicare Part B as the primary carrier. He was asked to pay 80% of his claims going back ten years.

First, no one should make a decision about declining Medicare Part B until they get written instructions from their current carrier about whether declining Medicare Part B is an option under their current plan or their spouse's current plan.

Second, do not focus on what the private plan offers you today. Consider the future. Medicare Part B may only be obtained during open season which is about one month each year, once it is originally declined. The monthly rate will be higher if elected at a later date.

Your company or your spouse's company may change plans, the company may close. Your spouse may retire or die. Where does that leave you in terms of your health insurance coverage? You may have a State or Municipal health insurance plan and your coverage may be redeemed in the future.

Although $108.00-$180.00 per month may seem like a large price tag for health insurance without pharmaceutical coverage (which of course is extra under Medicare Part D) consider having a lapse in insurance and suddenly ending up hospitalized for a week.

My recommendation is to say "yes" to Medicare Part B no matter how terrific your plan or your spouse's plan appears to be.