Updated on December 29, 2014
Q) What is Medicare?
A) Medicare is a federal health insurance program for retirees age 65 or older and certain disabled people. Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital care, some skilled nursing facility care and hospice care. Medicare Part B covers physician care, diagnostic x-rays and lab tests and durable medical equipment. Medicare Part D is a federal prescription drug program.
Q) I have GIC health coverage and I'm turning age 65; what do I need to do? Should I enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B if I am eligible?
A) If you are age 65 or over, visit Social Security's website or your local Social Security Office for confirmation of Social Security and Medicare benefit eligibility. If eligible and if you are retired, you must enroll in Medicare Part A for free and Part B to continue coverage with the GIC. See the Benefit Decision Guide for your health plan options.
If you are retired, the GIC will send you a Medicare Enrollment form before your 65th birthday with instructions.
If you, the insured, continue working at age 65 for the state or a participating municipality, you and your covered spouse, age 65 or over, should NOT enroll in Medicare Part B until you retire. You can apply for free Part A online; Part A will not interfere with your active employee health insurance coverage.
Most enrollees should not sign up for Medicare Part D. Your drugs are already covered by your GIC health plan.
Q) I'm retired, but not age 65. My spouse is turning age 65; what should my spouse do?
A) Your spouse should visit Social Security or your local Social Security Office for confirmation of Social Security and Medicare eligibility. If eligible, he/she must enroll in Medicare Part A for free and Part B to continue coverage with the GIC. See the under/over age 65 section for your health plan combination options.
Q) If I am retired and under age 65 and my spouse or I am disabled, how do I find out whether or not I am eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B benefits?
A) If you or your spouse is disabled, contact Social Security about Medicare eligibility. If eligible, contact the GIC for your health plan options.
Q) I am retired and my GIC-covered spouse or I am disabled. What do I need to do?
A) You or your covered spouse who just became disabled must contact Social Security to find out if you (or your covered spouse) are eligible for Medicare Part A for free. If eligible, enroll in Part A and Part B and contact the GIC for Medicare plan enrollment information. Late enrollments in Medicare Part B are subject to a federal late enrollment penalty; this penalty payment is your responsibility. Different rules apply for End Stage Renal Disease. Contact the GIC at 617.727.2310 1 or 6 for details.
Q) I have been a state employee for my entire career and have never contributed to Social Security. Why do I need to know about Medicare?
A) You may still be eligible for Medicare benefits. For example, if you are married, you may be eligible for Medicare through your spouse. When you turn age 65, visit Social Security's website or call 1.800.772.1213. If you are not eligible for Medicare, the GIC will require a copy of your denial letter from the Social Security Administration that you are not eligible and you will remain in a GIC non-Medicare health plan.
Q) What is the cost of Medicare Part B?
A) The premium is set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Contact them at 1.800.633.4227 for the current premium cost.
Q) How do I pay for Medicare Part B?
A) In most cases, the federal government will deduct the Medicare Part B premium from your monthly Social Security check. If you or your spouse are not eligible for a Social Security check, the federal government will bill you quarterly for the Medicare Part B premium.
Q) I have GIC health insurance. When must I enroll in Medicare Part A and B?
A) Apply three to four months before your 65th birthday. When you or your spouse turns 65, and if you (the insured) are retired, if you are eligible for Medicare Part A for free, you must enroll in Part A and Part B. If you (the insured) continue working for the state or a participating municipality after age 65, you and/or your spouse must enroll, if eligible for Part A for free. When you retire, you and/or your spouse must enroll in Medicare Part B and join a GIC Medicare plan for State Retirees or Municipal Retirees.
If you do not enroll in Medicare Part B within the required time, or cancel Part B and re-enroll at a later date, you will be required to pay federal government penalties. Also, you may be ineligible for health coverage through the GIC.
Q) Social Security has informed me (or my covered spouse) that I (or my covered spouse) is only eligible for Medicare Part B. What should I do?
A) You (or your covered spouse) will not be eligible for a GIC Medicare Supplemental Plan until you (or your covered spouse) are eligible for Medicare Part A for free. You (or your covered spouse) will remain in a non-Medicare GIC plan.
Q) Should I choose only Medicare for health care coverage?
A) "Medicare only" coverage is not recommended as it has coverage limitations. To ensure comprehensive coverage, Medicare retirees should enroll in a Medicare health plan sponsored by the GIC as a supplement to their Medicare coverage.
Q) I am in a GIC Medicare Plan. What are the consequences if I cancel or do not pay Medicare Part B?
A) If you cancel or do not pay Medicare Part B, the GIC is required to terminate your GIC health coverage. This would mean that you would only have Medicare Part A coverage for inpatient hospital care. You would no longer have coverage for:
- Physician office visits
- Prescription drugs
- Outpatient mental health/substance abuse care
- Outpatient surgery
- X-rays and diagnostic tests
- Hearing aids
If you wanted to later reinstate your Medicare Part B coverage, you would be subject to federal late enrollment penalties and would have to wait for Medicare's January-March Enrollment period followed by the GIC's Annual Enrollment period to get back into a GIC health plan. So, consider the consequences before you cancel or not pay Part B.
Q) What documents must I provide to the GIC when I am retired and age 65 or over with the Medicare Option form I receive from the GIC?
A) If you and/or your spouse are on Medicare , we will need the following documentation:
- Photocopy of your Medicare Card (include a copy of spouse's card if applicable)
- Photocopy of your latest 1099 or Benefit Verification letter printed from Social Security's website stating how your monthly Part B premium is paid (e.g., you are being directly billed by Social Security or it is being deducted from your Social Security check). Include this same documentation for your spouse, if applicable.
If you and/or your spouse are over age 65 and not eligible for Medicare we will need the following documentation:
- Social Security Denial Letter stating that you or your spouse are not eligible for Medicare Part A for free
Q) If I enroll in a GIC Medicare supplemental plan, what happens to my spouse's coverage?
A) Your spouse will continue to be covered under your existing non-Medicare plan if he/she is under age 65 until he or she becomes eligible for Medicare. You and your spouse must join the same health plan. See the Benefit Decision Guide for under and over age 65 health plan combination options. If your spouse is over age 65, he/she must enroll in the same Medicare supplemental plan that you have joined.
Q) At age 65 my spouse or I were not eligible for Medicare Part A for free. I or my spouse have subsequently become eligible for Medicare Part A. What do we need to do?
A) You or your spouse must notify the GIC in writing when you become eligible for Medicare Part A. The GIC will notify you of your coverage options. Failure to do this may result in loss of GIC coverage. Keep in mind that if your spouse is at least age 62 when you approach age 65, you may be Eligible for free Part A due to your spouse's Eligibility. Under Medicare's rules, failure to apply for Part B when you become Eligible may mean a penalty for late enrollment. Contact Social Security three to four months before you turn age 65 to understand your options and give yourself time to gather your documents.
Q) I am retired with GIC health insurance, but I (or my covered spouse) am working elsewhere. Do I (or my covered spouse) need to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B if I (or my covered spouse) am age 65 or over and eligible?
A) Yes. Because you have health insurance through the GIC as a retiree, you (or your covered spouse) will be enrolling a GIC supplemental Medicare plan to continue coverage. See Required Documentation for details.
Q) I am an ACTIVE state employee age 65 or over; which health plan card should I present at a doctor's office or hospital?
A) When visiting a hospital or doctor, present your GIC health plan card (not your Medicare card) to ensure that your GIC plan is charged for the visit. If you are still working and are age 65 or over, your GIC health plan is your primary health insurance provider; Medicare (if you have it) is secondary. You may need to explain this to your provider is he/she asks for your Medicare card.
Q) What do I do when Medicare says they are not my primary carrier yet I am retired, age 65 or over and have a Medicare Supplement plan through the GIC?
A) You must call Medicare at 1.800.633.4227 to correct the coordination of benefits.
Q) How do I find out about Medicare Plan options?
A) When you retire at age 65 or over or if you are retired and turn age 65, the GIC will contact you about your health plan options. The GIC's Benefit Decision Guide provides an overview of your Medicare health plan choices.
Q) How do I enroll in a GIC Medicare Plan?
A) Complete and return the form the GIC sends to you when you or your covered spouse turns age 65. Alternately, you may write to the GIC. In your letter, include your health plan election, name, address, and Social Security Number. Be sure to attach the required documents.
Q) When can I change GIC Medicare Plans?
A) You may change your GIC Medicare Plan during annual enrollment or if you move out of a GIC HMO Medicare Plan's service area.
Q ) How do I change Medicare plans during GIC's annual enrollment or if I move out of my HMO Medicare Plan's service area?
A) Complete a Medicare Plan Change form, attend a health fair, or write to the GIC requesting the change. If writing, include your name, address, Social Security Number and the requested change. If you are enrolling in Fallon Senior Plan, the plan will send you an application to complete and return. If you are currently in a Medicare Advantage HMO plan (Fallon Senior Plan or Tufts Medicare Preferred) and are writing to the GIC to request the change, you must also dis-enroll from your plan by notifying the current carrier in writing. The plan will notify you and the GIC of the effective date of the dis-enrollment.
Q) How do I calculate my monthly premium rates?
A) Using the rate section, add the following:
For an insured and spouse on Medicare - Find the premium for the Medicare plan in which you are enrolling and double it for your monthly rate.
For a Retiree and Spouse Coverage if Under and Over Age 65
- Find the premium for the Medicare Plan in which the Medicare retiree or spouse will be enrolling
- Find the individual coverage premium for the Non-Medicare Plan in which the Non-Medicare retiree or spouse will be enrolling.
- Add the two premiums together; this is what you will pay monthly.
For other coverage combinations, contact the GIC at 617.727.2310 ext. 6
Q) I am an active employee who is age 65 or over. Should I enroll in Medicare Part D?
Q) I am a retiree with GIC health coverage. Should I enroll in Medicare Part D?
A) For most GIC Medicare enrollees, the drug coverage you currently have through your GIC health plan is a better value than the Medicare drug plans being offered. Therefore, you should not enroll in a Medicare drug plan. (If you are a member of one of the GIC's Medicare Advantage plans - Fallon Senior Plan or Tufts Medicare Preferred - your plan automatically includes Medicare Part D coverage and you may not join an additional Part D plan.)
If you have limited income and assets, the Social Security Administration offers help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage and this may be the one case where signing up for a Medicare Part D plan may work for you. Contact the Social Security Administration or Medicare for more details.
Q) How do I avoid paying a penalty for late enrollment in Medicare Part D?
A) If you should later enroll in a Medicare drug plan because of changed circumstances, show the GIC’s Creditable Coverage Notice to the Social Security Administration to avoid paying a penalty. This notice is in your health plan handbook that is mailed to you and is also on the Medicare Health Plan pages.
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission .
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