Medicare is offering relief from penalties for certain Medicare beneficiaries who enrolled in Medicare Part A and had coverage through the individual marketplace. For a short time- these individuals will be able to enroll in Medicare Part B without paying a penalty for late enrollment.
Individuals who do not enroll in Medicare Part B when they first become eligible pay a stiff penalty. For each year that they put off enrolling- their monthly premium increases by 10 percent — permanently. Some people with marketplace plans – that is- plans purchased by individuals or families- not through employers — did not enroll in Medicare Part B when they were first eligible. Purchasing a marketplace plan with financial assistance from the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) can be cheaper than enrolling in Medicare Part B. However- Medicare recipients are not eligible for marketplace financial assistance plans. And because marketplace plans are not considered equivalent coverage to Medicare Part B- signing up late for Part B will result in a late enrollment penalty.
Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent notice to individuals who had both marketplace plans and Medicare- it may have been too late. Therefore- CMS is allowing individuals who enrolled in Medicare Part A and had coverage through a marketplace plan to enroll in Medicare Part B without a penalty. It is also allowing individuals who dropped marketplace coverage and are paying a late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part B to reduce their penalty. To be eligible for the relief- the individual must:
- Have an initial Medicare enrollment period that began April 1- 2013 or later; or
- Have been notified of a retroactive premium-free Medicare Part A award on October 1- 2013 or later.
This offer is available for only a short time. To be eligible for the relief- individuals must request it by September 30- 2017. Individuals who are eligible should contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or visit their local Social Security office and request to take advantage of the “equitable relief.”