“If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear. If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.”

— Eckhart Tolle

COVID-19 turned the world upside down for the majority of us. After 10 years of being a licensed broker, I’ve never witnessed this many Medicare eligibles losing their jobs at once. Most of the calls to my office lately have been by people who have been laid off after devoting years to their companies. These calls are by people who are Medicare age that have delayed enrollment into Part B because they were receiving credible medical coverage from their work. After being covered at work for so long, it’s a challenge transitioning into the federal health insurance program called Medicare.

Sparked by the conversations I’ve been having lately, I decided to create this blog breaking down common questions to help others who are experiencing a similarly tough transition.

What if I lost my employer health insurance coverage or I am about to?

  • If you’ve already lost coverage:
    • Find out what you have. We have found that some clients are not aware they already have Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). If you do not have your red, white, and blue Medicare card, you can contact Medicare to find out if you have it.
    • Apply for insurance as soon as possible. You may be eligible for COBRA or your state’s Healthcare Marketplace (Covered California is California’s Healthcare Marketplace). The state’s Healthcare Marketplace or COBRA could hold you over until you can get enrolled into Medicare. In my professional opinion, I would advise you to enroll into Medicare instead of COBRA, if possible, as it often is more affordable than COBRA. If you received your COBRA notice and you know the potential costs, we can calculate the costs and compare your options.
      • If you are a California resident, you may be subject to tax penalties if you are not covered.
    • If you qualify for Medicare and you don’t enroll, you may be subject to penalties.
      • Part B: If you lose employer (20+ employees) coverage, and you are retiring (or you will remain unemployed for now), you will need to enroll into Part B within 8 months. If you miss this 8-month period, you only be able to enroll during the General Enrollment period (January-March) and your coverage won’t take effect until July of the year you enrolled. While waiting to get coverage, you will have to figure out a way to be covered in the meantime. You will also incur a 10% penalty for each 12-month period that you did not enroll. This will be deducted from your social security pension and it will take place for as long as you’re on Medicare.
      • Part D: If you no longer have prescription drugs covered through your employer, you will have a 63-day grace period before you will incur a penalty. If you go longer than 63-days without prescription drug coverage, you will be subject to a 1% (of the standard premium of Part D plans) penalty for each month that you did not enroll into a Part D plan. This penalty is also for as long as you’re on Medicare.
  • If you know you’ll lose coverage within the next 60 days:
    • You can apply before you lose your coverage to try to ensure there’s no gap in coverage.
      • For example, if you know you’ll lose coverage in 2 months on March 30th, apply for Medicare as soon as possible.
    • When applying for Medicare, they may ask for proof of employment coverage (Form CMS-L564) ,which would justify delaying Part B, and a completed Part B enrollment form (Form CMS40B). Submitting paperwork back and forth can take time, so allow time for this.
    • Enrollment into Medicare Part B can take 4-6 weeks, but at the time of writing this page, it has taken our clients 2-3 weeks to be enrolled into Medicare Part B. We help guide our clients on what to do and what to say when they are going from employer to Medicare coverage.
    • After enrolling into Original Medicare, it is important to gain the proper coverage and enroll into either a Medicare Advantage plan (MA, MAPD, PDP) or a Medicare Supplement plan (Medi-gap). We offer no-cost consultations to make it easy for you to figure out what type of plan would work for your lifestyle.

If I lose my job, will I qualify for a special enrollment period with Medicare?

Yes, if you lose your job, you qualify for a special enrollment period with Medicare. You will have 8 months to sign-up for Part B without incurring a penalty. For Part D, you will have a 63-day grace period.

If you have more questions, I am hosting a free Zoom webinar on this topic. You can get your ticket here.

We help people who are experiencing job loss in California, Oregon, and Washington, and guide our clients on the proper steps from losing employer coverage to getting covered with Medicare.

 Contact our office today for personalized help with your situation.