Medicare Part B


Q. I went on Medicare Part A two years ago, keeping federal Blue Cross Anthem for my Part B.  My husband (the policy holder) is two years younger and is going on Medicare soon. How do we handle Part B? Do we go on Medicare Part B with Blue Cross picking up what’s leftover, or can we keep (and pay for) Blue Cross for Part B? If we both have to go on Medicare Part B, can I join without penalty, and who do I call to do that?

A. Only you and your husband can decide individually if you want to enroll in Medicare Part B and pay the premiums. There isn’t any one-size-fits-all answer. One factor for you in making a decision is that you missed your opportunity for a penalty-free enrollment in Part B. Since you didn’t sign up during the initial enrollment period, you’d have to wait for a general enrollment period, which is held between Jan. 1 and March 31 of each year. If you do enroll at that time, your coverage won’t start until the following July and your monthly premium will be 10 percent higher than the basic premium for each 12 months that you could have been enrolled and weren’t. If yu decide to do that, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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