Medicare enrollment penalties for working people turning 65

David: I had understood that if an employee provided a signed form from their employer showing they had employer health insurance, there would be no penalty for failing to enroll by age 65. My employer provided me with a statement that our insurance doesn’t meet certain minimum requirements and is not equivalent to Medicare, and that failure to sign up for Medicare could result in a penalty, as well as more expensive health care since our coverage isn’t as good as Medicare. Could you clarify this for me?

Phil Moeller: Different statement!

Employers are required to certify that their prescription drug plans are comparable to Medicare or else the employee needs to get a Part D Medicare plan. There are specific requirements for drug coverage, and the rise of high-deductible employer health plans has meant that more employer drug plans have comparability problems.

I do not know the specifics of what your plan needs to provide to satisfy this requirement and must assume your employer is telling you the truth about its plan. In that case, you would need to get Medicare Part D or later be subject to late-enrollment penalties. However, you would not have to get Part B or a Medicare Advantage plan in this situation.