What Americans don’t know about Medicare

A survey by the Nationwide Retirement Institute says 53% of older adults don’t know there is a premium associated with Medicare Part B.

How can that be?

Given that, no doubt they have no clue premiums are income based and a household with an income of $170,000 pays $187.50 per month per person or that the top premium is $428.60 a month.


  1. Dwayne, Best of luck. There are many plans out there. As Mr. Q has talked about before, some people are over insured. And of course, we know there are those with too little insurance. Finding the right plan can take a lot of time and effort. And as presented in today’s blog, quite a few people don’t have a handle or a clue.


      1. I have medical insurance for my wife and me as a retired federal employee, the so-called Fed blue plan. The premium is about $375 s month for both of us. Medicare Part B would be largely duplicative.


      2. Vince, your Fed Blue answer got me to look at my benefit documents again. This will mean more to Mr. Quinn than you.

        If the online documents are current which the life insurance contractor is not, then the way I understand it, I get Medicare Part A for free from the Feds. I pay the Feds for Part B. I can opt to pay PSEG for supplemental insurance for Part B and as a result of my PSEG premium, I get a Part D plan. It seems to me as I understand my plans, that I buy the supplemental insurance to limit my out of pocket expenses and to get drug coverage which is Part D. Buying the supplemental insurance would be the smart move for me.

        In about 8 years I will check that this is still true before I go onto Medicare with Benefits Express. The documentation does not exactly make the same tie in using the exact Medicare plan and part terms or words like I just did. To me, the documentation is trying hard to cover all the possibilities and all the different supplemental plans I can purchase so the clarity is not there for me yet.

        I guess once I get to use it, I’ll understand it better. I need to find some medicare retirees on my plan and learn the pitfalls so I don’t learn the hard way. Heck, I am still trying to understand my current pre-medicare HMO plan and all their rules.


  2. I am not surprised by the results. In my pre-retirement years, information was not readily provided and if it was, I didn’t understand it. Social Security mails you your annual statement, but you really do not get anything on Medicare as a primer. My employer showed me my retirement Medicare premiums but I didn’t really know what I was going to be paying for. Add in the TV commercials for all the supplement plans and you almost are to the point of doing nothing as the safe choice for fear of making the wrong choice. Besides Medicare is years away.

    Now to be fair, my employer did provide the information on my costs and buried in the plan information were some details but not how Medicare worked. I just didn’t know what the various Medicare plans meant and how my company’s insurance worked with Medicare. In our retirement classes Medicare plans were not covered. How many people get offered classes? I just thought that I paid for Medicare all my life and I got Medicare and everything was covered. In fact, medical was the big question mark because my classes leading up to retirement was when Obamacare was being passed and nobody knew what would happen to the whole health insurance industry ten years from now.

    In the last few months before I retired and the first few months after I retired, I dove deeply into how Medicare worked. If it was not for the Internet, I would still have no any idea. In the days of only printed paper, the research would have been very hard to do. But now I understand what I have to pay for in the terms of the Medicare supplements and why. I did share this information with some of my co-workers close to retirement.

    I still have 9 years to go until I am put on Medicare so I will be paying close attention to any changes. I am sure when I reach age 65 there will still be a steep learning curve on how it all works and how to process claims. But I think I am better prepared now than if I retired at 65 without a clue.

    The big question for people my age, will they fail to sign up for social security just before they turn 65 to get Medicare or will they be thinking that they cannot sign up for social security until they turn 67 when they reach full retirement age not realizing that to get Medicare that you must sign up for social security and but you do not have to collect? Hopefully the government will make that more clearer as my age group approaches 65.


    1. There is no connection between starting Social Security and starting Medicare. The only time you don’t have to sign up for Medicare Part B or D is if you are still working at age 65 and have employer coverage.


      1. You still have to sign up for Part A at 65.

        I know that there is not a connection other than the only way to get Medicare is to sign up for Social Security, but you do not have to collect Social Security when you sign up. For the later baby boomers and beyond, they may think why bother signing up for Social Security until I am allow to collect my full Social Security benefit which is age 67 for those born after 1960. I am guessing that some people are starting to find that out the hard way who have a 66 year limit and waited for full benefits instead of signing up 3 months before their 65th birthday to get Medicare.

        I think a lot of people think that since that there are two separate programs that there would be two different sign up programs when it is the Social Security Administration that does the initial registration for Medicare. Social Security determines eligibility and mails the Medicare cards.

        If you actually look into who administers Medicare program there are at least 4 governmental upper level agencies with their hands in the pie before it gets down to who actually pays the bills, not counting the private insurance companies for the supplement plans.

        One other thing to note about Social Security, if you refuse Medicare then you lose your Social Security benefits too. I don’t why or how you do that, but once again you would think that since they are two different payroll taxes it would not matter.


      2. I started SS in March 2018 at 62, being low income and the fact that my wife’s spousal benefit increased our total monthly benefit to $100 above my FRA; it made no sense to me to wait.
        As it would take until age 77 to get back the $66,976 in higher monthly checks, that we will receive in the 52 months before FRA. Also, I have other retirement income and life insurance that equal way more than the increase in SS benefits for waiting
        If you are already getting SS retirement benefits at 65 you will be automatically signed up for Medicare A and B, so there is that connection. One thing that many people do not know, if you delay signing up for Medicare past age 65 you may have to pay a lifetime late enrollment penalty. You will need to make sure that any employer health plan covers at least what Medicare does and it makes you exempt from paying the penalty. My sister enrolled in only Part A and B at 65, then tried to enroll in part D at 69 and with the penalty, it was not worth it.
        I do not really understand the late enrollment penalty, because you were not receiving any benefits from Medicare and for those months you were saving Medicare money.


      3. It’s called adverse selection. Without the penalty reasonably healthy people would tend to wait, not pay premiums and then enroll when they needed coverage with expenses far exceeding the premiums they pay. If you are working at age 65 and have employer coverage, by law you can’t use Medicare as primary coverage and it’s not worth paying the premium in most cases.


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