Are you going to stop working when you are 65 years old? If you are like some people in Hawaii — you love your job and you aren’t ready to stop working just because you are eligible for Medicare. What happens then? Do you have to sign up for Medicare? Will you be penalized if you don’t enroll?

These are some common questions that we receive at the Hawaii SHIP Program (State Health Insurance Assistance Program). We will try and walk you through the common factors, but again, you need to check with your current employer and any other insurance that you are eligible for to see how they all fit together.

First, we suggest that you contact the benefits administrator at your current job (or your spouse’s job if you are covered by their plan) to find out how Medicare may change your coverage or what you need to do for them. This is usually the Human Resource department.

Second, call Social Security Administration (or best to create an account with them so you can check it online) and see if you are eligible for “premium free” Medicare Part A (for most people they have worked 40 quarters (10 years) and paid payroll taxes). If you don’t have to pay for Part A — enrolling will usually be secondary to your employer group health plan and you will also receive the Medicare & You Handbook in the mail each fall.

The decision to enroll in Medicare Part B & Medicare Part D is a personal decision, but you want to make the right decision at the right time so that you will have the coverage when you need it and won’t incur higher costs through penalties.

If you are able to delay enrolling in Part B (Medical Insurance) and Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage) then you will have a special enrollment period when you (or your spouse) stop working and are no longer covered by the active employer group health plan. The special enrollment periods are eight (8) months for Part B and 63 days for Part D. Best to start investigating your options about 6 months before you plan to retire.

Again, Medicare unlike your Social Security, full retirement begins at 65 and you should begin looking at what your options are about six (6) months prior to your 65th birthday. If you need assistance the Hawaii SHIP provides counseling, pre-retirement webinars and presentations to help you look at your options.

Contact our certified Medicare counselors if you would really like to learn more about Medicare and help your community, or becoming a Hawaii SHIP Volunteer.

Hawaii SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program):
1-888-875-9229 |
For 2014 Medicare updates: