Can I enroll in Medicare if I’m covered by my spouse’s insurance?

The size of your spouse’s company determines how you need to enroll. If your spouse works for an employer of fewer than 20 people, you should sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B as soon as you are eligible. Medicare will be your primary insurance and pay before your other coverage.

Group Health Plan Coverage

If your spouse’s employer has at least 20 employees, ask your benefits manager if you have group health plan coverage. With group coverage, you can delay enrollment without penalty. Those who are getting health coverage through a group health plan with their spouse’s employer can use a Special Enrollment Period. The Special Enrollment Period lasts eight months and begins the month after employment or coverage ends. 

This means that you can choose to delay enrollment while your spouse is still working or until your coverage ends, whichever comes sooner. When you sign up for Medicare, you will not be subject to the Part B late enrollment penalty. The penalty adds typically 10% to your monthly premium for every twelve months that you go without signing up. It lasts for as long as you hold Part B.

Enrolling in Medicare

You can sign up for Part A as soon as you become eligible, but no earlier than when you first become eligible. You might be eligible for premium-free Part A if you or your spouse paid Social Security payroll taxes for at least ten years. Thus, there is no need to delay Part A (hospital insurance) enrollment, even if it is held as secondary insurance to your spouse’s health coverage. 

While you are considering your health coverage options, it may be worthwhile to consider the optional Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans. Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans offer Part A and Part B coverage in addition to prescription drug coverage and often plans for dental, vision, and hearing coverage. These will more closely reflect your current coverage from your spouse’s employer.

Medicare Supplement plans are made to help you afford Medicare. These standardized plans will pay a portion or all of your copayments, coinsurance, and deductible for a monthly premium. They cover everything except the Part B deductible, which is why timely enrollment is crucial.

You can also have a Part D prescription drug plan in addition to your Medicare hospital and medical insurance. With coverage for at least two drugs in the most commonly prescribed therapeutic categories, Part D plans have you pay copayments instead of the pharmacy’s full cost. You can research which plans cover your prescriptions before choosing a policy.

For all of your Medicare questions, go to Medicare on Video.

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