Learn More About Turning Age 65 and Medicare

An overview of Medicare, when to enroll, and GIC Medicare Plan enrollment.

GIC Medicare Guideline - When to Enroll in Medicare.

What Medicare is

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.

When to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B if you have GIC health coverage

This depends on your employment status with the state or a participating GIC municipality:

  • If you, the insured, continue working for the state or a participating GIC municipality at age 65 or over, you and your covered spouse should only enroll in free Medicare Part A if eligible.  Defer Part B until you, the insured, retire.  
  • If retiring, and you or your covered spouse is age 65 or over, the family member(s) age 65 or over should apply for Medicare Part A and Part B up to a month before your retirement.  You and/or your spouse age 65 or over will receive a Medicare enrollment package from the GIC approximately two to three weeks after the GIC is notified by your GIC Coordinator of your retirement.  Be sure to respond to the GIC by the due date noted in the package.
  • If retired, when you or your covered spouse turns age 65, apply for Medicare Part A and Part B up to three months before your 65th birthday.  You or your spouse turning age 65 will receive a Medicare enrollment package from the GIC approximately three months before your 65th birthday to make your Medicare health plan selection.  Be sure to respond to the GIC by the due date noted in the package.

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.

If you are retired, but not age 65 and your spouse is turning age 65

Your spouse should visit Social Security’s website or your local Social Security Office for confirmation of Social Security and Medicare eligibility.  If eligible for Part A for free, he/she must enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B to continue coverage with the GIC through a GIC Medicare supplemental plan.  See the under/over age 65 section of the Benefit Decision Guide, available on our website, for your health plan combination options. This information is also included in the Medicare Plan enrollment package that will be mailed to your spouse.

How to find out whether or not you are eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B benefits if you are retired and under age 65 and your spouse or you are disabled

If you or your spouse is disabled and receiving Social Security disability benefits, Social Security will automatically enroll you or your spouse in Medicare Part A and Part B on the 25th month of receiving benefits; contact Social Security about Medicare-eligibility. If eligible, contact the GIC at 617.727.2310 ext. 6 to request a Medicare Plan enrollment package.  

Why you need to know about Medicare if you have been a state employee for your entire career and have never contributed to Social Security

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 Social Security to apply. 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.


The cost of Medicare Part B

The premium is set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  Contact Medicare (1.800.633.4227) for the current premium cost.

How to pay for Medicare Part B

In most cases, the federal government will deduct the Medicare Part B premium from your monthly Social Security check. If you or your spouse is not eligible for a Social Security check, the federal government will bill you quarterly for the Medicare Part B premium.

What to do if Social Security has informed you (or your covered spouse) that you (or your covered spouse) is only eligible for Medicare Part B

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.

What are the consequences if you cancel or do not pay Medicare Part B if you are in a GIC Medicare Plan

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 through March enrollment period followed by the GIC’s spring annual enrollment period to get back into a GIC health plan.  So, consider the consequences before you cancel or don’t pay Medicare Part B.

Medicare only health care coverage is not recommended

“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.
Medicare as a “stand alone” insurance does not provide comprehensive or complete coverage. It is not recommended.  See previous question for details.

The documents you must provide to the GIC with the Medicare Plan Enrollment form you receive from the GIC when you retire at age 65 or over or are retired and you or your covered spouse turns age 65

Indicate your GIC Medicare plan options and fill in your Medicare Claim Number on the form, sign and return by the date noted on the form.
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 and/or your spouse is not eligible for Medicare Part A for free.

When your GIC Medicare Plan go into effect

The GIC determines the Medicare Plan effective date based on receipt of completed forms.  The effective date of a GIC Medicare Advantage Plan (Fallon Senior Plan and Tufts Medicare Preferred) is determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Once you are enrolled, you will receive an ID card from your Medicare health plan.

What happens to your spouse's coverage if you enroll in a GIC Medicare supplemental plan

Your spouse will continue to be covered under in a GIC 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.

What you need to do at age 65 if your spouse or yourself was not eligible for Medicare Part A for free, but now, you and your spouse have subsequently become eligible for Medicare Part A for free

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 Medicare’s rules allow you to buy Part B at age 65, even if you are not eligible for free Medicare Part A. 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 for details.

You may want to purchase Medicare Part B if you are retired and are not eligible for Medicare Part A for free, but are eligible for Medicare Part B

The GIC does not require you to enroll in Medicare Part B if you are not eligible for Medicare Part A for free.  However, if you may be eligible for Medicare Part A in the future (for example, you have a younger spouse) you may want to enroll in Part B to avoid a Medicare penalty later on.  Contact Social Security for details.

You need to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B if you are age 65 or over and eligible if you are retired with GIC health insurance, but you are working elsewhere

Because you have health insurance through the GIC as a retiree, you will be enrolling a GIC Medicare plan to continue coverage.  

Which ID card you should present to a doctor’s office or hospital if you are an active state employee age 65 or over and have a Medicare card with Part A only

When receiving services at a hospital or doctor, present your GIC health plan card (not your Medicare card) to ensure that your GIC health 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 if he/she asks for your Medicare card.

What to do when Medicare says they are not your primary carrier yet you are retired, age 65 or over and have a Medicare supplemental plan through the GIC

You must call Medicare at 1.800.633.4227 to correct the coordination of benefits.

How to find out about GIC Medicare plan options

When you retire at age 65 or over or if you (the insured) are retired and turn age 65/or your covered spouse turns age 65, the GIC will send you approximately three months before the 65th birthday a Medicare enrollment package that includes information about your health plan options.   

How to enroll in a GIC Medicare plan

Complete and return the Medicare Plan Enrollment form the GIC sends to you when you retire and you and/or your spouse is age 65 or over or when you are retired and you or your covered spouse turns age 65. Be sure to return the completed form by the due date indicated on the form.  If enrolling in Harvard Medicare Enhance, Health New England MedPlus, Tufts Medicare Complement or  UniCare Indemnity Plan/Medicare Extension (OME), you must also complete and return the Medicare Part D Opt-in Form.  

When to change GIC Medicare plans

You may only change your GIC Medicare plan during the GIC’s spring annual enrollment period or if you move out of a GIC HMO Medicare plan's service area.

How to change Medicare plans during the GIC’s annual enrollment period or if you move out of your Medicare HMO plan's service area

Complete and return to the GIC a Retiree/Survivor Enrollment and Change Form (Form-RS).  Changes can also be made at a GIC health fair.

  • If enrolling in Harvard Medicare Enhance, Health New England MedPlus, Tufts Medicare Complement or UniCare Indemnity Plan/Medicare Extension (OME), you must also complete and return the Medicare Part D Opt-in Form. 
  • 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—, you must dis-enroll from the plan by also sending to the GIC a completed Medicare Advantage/EGWP Plan dis-enrollment form. The plan will notify you and the GIC of the effective date of the dis-enrollment.

How to calculate your monthly premium rates

Using the rate section of our website, 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
1. Find the premium for the Medicare Plan in which the Medicare retiree or spouse will be enrolling
2. Find the individual coverage premium for the Non-Medicare Plan in which the Non-Medicare retiree or spouse will be enrolling.
3. 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.

If you are an active employee with GIC health coverage who is age 65 or over, you should not enroll in Medicare Part D

If you are a retiree with GIC health coverage, you should not enroll in a non-GIC Medicare Part D plan

No. For most GIC Medicare enrollees, the drug coverage you currently have through your GIC health plan is a better value than a basic  Medicare Part D drug plan.  Therefore, you should not enroll in a non-GIC Medicare Part D plan.

  • Effective July 1, 2017, all GIC Medicare plans automatically include Medicare Part D coverage.  Do not enroll in a non-GIC Medicare Part D plan.  If you enroll in another Medicare Part D drug plan, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will automatically dis-enroll you from your GIC health plan, which means you will lose your GIC health, behavioral health, and prescription drug benefits.
  • If you have extremely limited income and assets, you may be eligible for prescription drug subsidies through the Extra Help program.  Contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or Social Security (1-800-772-1213) for more information.
  • If your adjusted gross income, as reported on your federal tax return, exceeds a certain amount, Social Security will impose a monthly additional fee called IRMAA (Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount).  Visit medicare.gov for more information.  Social Security will notify you if IRMAA applies to you.

How to avoid paying a late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part D

The Medicare Part D Late Enrollment Penalty (LEP) is the amount that Medicare requires a person to pay if he/she:
• Did not enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan when first eligible for Medicare; or
• Did not have creditable prescription drug coverage – coverage at least as good as Medicare’s standard plan; or
• Had a break in coverage of more than 63 consecutive days.

The GIC’s retiree prescription drug coverage meets or exceeds the Medicare Part D coverage standard and is therefore considered creditable coverage. See your health plan handbook on your plan’s or the GIC’s website for a Creditable Coverage notice.

Note that if you decide to enroll in a non-GIC Medicare Part D plan that cancels your GIC coverage, you may be responsible for the Medicare Part D late enrollment penalty if you later wish to re-enroll in GIC Part D coverage.

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