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Problems with Enrolling in Medicare Part B Clarified in New Report

Medicare Rights Center identifies problems, recommends ways to improve the system

Medicare Interactive logoNov. 19, 2014 - The Medicare Rights Center, where staffers spend much of their time counseling senior citizens about Medicare, has released a report detailing common enrollment challenges facing people new to the Medicare program. And, the authors even contribute some thoughts on how the enrollment system can be improved.

As the Baby Boom generation ages into Medicare, an estimated 10,000 people become Medicare eligible each day, while an increasing share of older adults are delaying retirement beyond age 65.

In the report, Medicare Part B Enrollment: Pitfalls, Problems and Penalties, a compelling story is shared by a caller to the Medicare Rights Center helpline. Believing that he had adequate health coverage when he turned 65, the caller chose to delay enrolling in Medicare Part B.


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Unwittingly - and based on confusing information received from his health plan - he made a choice that caused him to be without adequate health coverage and will require him to pay a lifetime premium penalty for Medicare Part B. Unfortunately, this caller is not alone, in 2012, 740,000 beneficiaries were reported to be paying Part B late enrollment penalties.

“Simple, streamlined and standardized information and tools are needed to adequately educate the thousands of individuals who become eligible for Medicare each day,” said Jonathan Blum, former Principal Deputy Administrator of CMS and current Medicare Rights board member.

“This new report from the Medicare Rights Center draws a roadmap for federal policymakers who are eager to better support people with Medicare and their families.”

“To enroll or not enroll is the question on 10,000 minds a day,” said Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center.

“Stories of Medicare enrollment woes are all too common and will likely become increasingly so as the Baby Boom generation ages into the Medicare program. These individuals can be, and should be, better supported to ensure that they make the best possible choice when nearing Medicare eligibility.”

The report recommends that Congress, the Social Security Administration and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services prioritize key solutions to simplify Medicare enrollment and ensure that fewer people make costly enrollment mistakes, including:

   ● Enhancing notification and education for people new-to-Medicare.

   ● Reforming the Medicare enrollment periods to eliminate needless gaps in the start of health coverage.

   ● Strengthening avenues for relief, giving greater opportunity for retroactive enrollment and the elimination of premium penalties.

   ● Conducting more research on how many people are affected by Medicare enrollment challenges and how many will be potentially affected in the future. 

>> Download the report in pdf format.

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