Steve – Calif.: If I decline Medicare when I turn 65 and later enroll, I understand that I will get hit with large late-enrollment penalties that would last the rest of my life. I know of no other medical coverage that is so punitive. Why? Just because I chose not to go with them at this time? I mean they fairly threaten you when bringing up not using Medicare. As a citizen and veteran, I resent that kind of treatment by a government agency that supposedly works for us, not one looking to spank me when I haven’t done anything wrong. Why is that attitude even allowed, much less SOP?
Phil Moeller: There is a good reason for these penalties, although there is no good reason for anyone at Medicare to treat you poorly.
The good reason for the penalties is that without them, healthy people wouldn’t get Medicare when they turned 65 but would simply wait until they needed care to enroll. If only sick people had Medicare, the rates for them would be much, much higher. The program needs everyone to enroll to be affordable. Even at that, Part B premiums for most people cover only 25 percent of the cost of care and taxpayers pay the other 75 percent.