The Pitfalls of Enrolling in Medicare Part B

The Medicare Rights Center released a report detailing common enrollment challenges for people who are new to Medicare. The report, “Medicare Part B Enrollment: Pitfalls, Problems and Penalties,” includes a compelling story of a caller to the Medicare Rights Center helpline. He chose to delay enrolling in Medicare Part B, believing that he had adequate health coverage when he turned 65. Based on confusing information received from his health plan, he made a choice that caused him to be without adequate health coverage and will require him to pay a lifetime premium penalty for Medicare Part B. Unfortunately, this caller is not alone, in 2012, 740,000 beneficiaries were paying Part B late enrollment penalties.

“Simple, streamlined and standardized information and tools are needed to adequately educate the thousands of individuals who become eligible for Medicare each day,” said Jonathan Blum, former principal deputy administrator of CMS and Medicare Rights board member. Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center said, “Stories of Medicare enrollment woes are all too common, and will likely become increasingly so as the Baby Boom generation ages into the Medicare program.”

The report recommends that Congress, the Social Security Administration, and CMS do the following:

  • Enhance notification and education for those who are new to Medicare.
  • Reform the Medicare enrollment periods to eliminate needless gaps in the start of health coverage.
  • Strengthen avenues for relief, giving greater opportunity for retroactive enrollment and the elimination of premium penalties.
  • Conduct more research on how many people face Medicare enrollment challenges and how many could be affected in the future. 

The report is available at: http://www.medicarerights.org/policy/priorities/part-b-enrollment-nov-2014/.

Last Updated 10/20/2021

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