Medicare Part B and penalties


Q. My husband is a federal retiree, age 78. He chose not to enroll in Medicare Part B at 65 because he felt the extra expense would be unnecessary, since Kaiser Permanente seemed to cover everything he might need. We are now considering moving to a retirement community and find that the Medicare coverage would be advantageous in that environment. How much of a penalty will he pay if he enrolls in Medicare now?

A. If he now decides to enroll in Medicare Part B, his premiums will be 10 percent higher for each full 12-month period he could have been enrolled but wasn’t. Considering how many years have passed since he was first eligible to enroll, the cost of enrolling now would be considerable. To find out the actual amount, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 and talk to one of their benefits specialists.


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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