Retiree Benefits and Medicare

WebMD Medical Reference

Even if you get health benefits after you retire, you still should sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B.

Medicare Benefits for Retirees

After you turn 65 and are retired, Medicare pays your health care bills.

Your retiree benefits help pay for things that Medicare does not cover. Many retirees are tempted to give up their retiree benefits because they think that Medicare will cover all their expenses. But make this decision carefully. If you give up your retiree benefits, you may not be able to get them back.

If you are still working, Medicare pays first for your health care bills if:

  • You are aged 65 or over, and the employer that covers you has fewer than 20 employees.

Your employer health insurance pays your health care bills first if:

  • You are still working and your employer has more than 20 employees.
  • You are retired, but your spouse is still working and you are covered under his/her health plan.

If you are still working, you can choose to opt out of Medicare Part B if you have adequate coverage through your employer. When the coverage from your employer ends, you will be eligible for a special enrollment period for Medicare Part B. During this time, you can enroll without paying the penalty normally charged to people who sign up late.

Steps to Take

Step 1: Find out if you can keep your employer's health benefits after you retire.

Step 2: Enroll in Medicare. Medicare does not automatically know about other health coverage you may have. You must indicate that you have retiree benefits when you enroll.

Step 3: Review your retiree plan carefully. Get a booklet that details the plan's benefits. You can also ask your benefits administrator how your plan works with Medicare.

If you have more questions, or to report changes in your insurance, call the Medicare Coordination of Benefits Contractor at (800) 999-1118.


Reviewed by Cynthia Haines, MD, August 2005.

SOURCES: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare.gov web site. National Council on the Aging web site.

© 2005 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.


For additional Medicare information, please read the following articles:


Last Editorial Review: 12/9/2005




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