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Servicemembers with Aging Parents

Military to Civilian Transition

Don't forget your Parents

So, the holidays are upon us. It is also enrollment season for insurance. For Servicemembers that are transitioning, it is very important to know when your military insurance (Tricare) ends and your Civilian Insurance (Life and Health Insurance) begins. Deploy your Financial Counselors on this mission. They are there to help.

Our Focus - Aging Parents
Many servicemembers that are transitioning back to the civilian have parents that are aging and are enrolling or re-enrolling in Medicare. This quick review is for them.

There are four major components of the Medicare system. The four parts include:

  1. Medicare Part A — Coverage for hospitalization
  2. Medicare Part B — Coverage for doctor’s visits and routine healthcare needs.
  3. Medicare Part C — Also called Medicare Advantage, it can replace Part A and Part B in some locations and situations.
  4. Medicare Part D — Prescription drug coverage.

This helpful article focuses on Medicare Part B.
If your parents have worked at least 10 years (40 quarters) while paying Medicare taxes, they typically qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A. Since most Medicare beneficiaries pay a monthly Medicare Part B premium, some people choose not to enroll in Part B or to delay enrollment.

The Servicemember’s parents should think this over carefully as generally, they will face a late-enrollment penalty added to their monthly premium for Part B if they sign up after becoming eligible for Medicare. This penalty is for your parents lifetime.

Medicare’s Special Enrollment Period
However, there is good news…Medicare has a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) when you can enroll in Medicare Part B without a penalty. This is how your SEP works:

  • The 3 Touchpoints
    If the following 3 touch points apply to your parents …they may qualify for a SEP to enroll in Medicare Part B:
    1. Your parent(s) is age 65 or older.
    2. Your parent(s) is still working, or the spouse is still working.
    3. Your parent(s) is covered by a health plan based on current employment.

If the parent(s) qualify, then they may enroll in Medicare Part B at any of these times:

  • While you are still covered by an employer or union group health plan
  • During the eight months following the month when the employer or union group health plan coverage ends, or when the employment ends, whichever comes first.
  • If the parent(s) is working and plan to keep their employer’s group health coverage.

Medicare’s General Enrollment Period
If the parent(s) employer-based group coverage ends and they don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during the SEP… they will have to wait until the General Enrollment Period to enroll and may pay a higher Part B premium as a late enrollment penalty. Again, the Servicemember’s parent(s) should think this over carefully as a late-enrollment penalty is added to their monthly premium for Part B if they sign up after becoming eligible for Medicare. This penalty is for your parent's lifetime.

Helpful Resources

Resources that can help your parents decide when to enroll in Medicare Part B:

How to Choose the Right Medicare Plan

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