Yes, you may be able to delay your Medicare Part B enrollment without paying higher premiums under certain circumstances.
Delaying Coverage Due to Employer or Union Group Health Coverage
If you or your spouse receive group coverage through an employer or union, you can delay your enrollment in Medicare Part B after you first become eligible. In this case, you will not have to pay a late-enrollment penalty (i.e. higher premiums) if you decide later to enroll in Medicare Part B during your eight-month Special Enrollment Period (SEP). The SEP starts when you are either no longer covered by your employer or union insurance or when you stop working.
Remember that if you are eligible for Original Medicare, you are allowed to sign up for Medicare Part B even if you still have current coverage under your employer or union. COBRA or retiree benefits are not considered coverage from an employer. It is important to enroll in Medicare Part B before your COBRA benefits end.
Delaying Coverage in Other Situations
There are also other exceptions in which you may be able to enroll in Medicare Part B at a later time without penalty. These exceptions may apply if you were living or a volunteer overseas during your 65th birthday and were not eligible for social security benefits. Upon your return to the United States, you may be allowed a SEP. The length of your SEP under these exceptions may vary. For more information, call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 (TTY users 1-877-486-2048) at any time.
If you miss the opportunity to enroll in Medicare Part B during your allotted SEP but later enroll during the next General Enrollment Period (an annual period of January 1st to March 31st), you will have to pay a late-enrollment penalty. The late enrollment penalty is a 10% higher premium for every full 12-month period that you did not sign up for Medicare Part B when you were eligible. It is possible that you will have to pay this penalty for the entire time you are enrolled in Medicare.
Need Help Finding a Medicare Plan to Avoid Late Enrollment Penalties?
For help finding a Medicare plan, try our Medicare Cost Revealer. If you have any questions, please contact Medicare at any time at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY users 1-877-486-2048).