Moeller: Should non-retirees join Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A might pay some other hospital expenses that are not fully covered by an employer plan. |  Photo courtesy of Maskot/Getty Images
Medicare Part A might pay some other hospital expenses that are not fully covered by an employer plan. | Photo courtesy of Maskot/Getty Images

Medicare rules and private insurance plans can affect people differently depending on where they live. To make sure the answers here are as accurate as possible, Philip Moeller is working with the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). It is funded by the government but is otherwise independent and trains volunteers to provide consumer Medicare counseling in state and local offices around the country. The nonprofit Medicare Rights Center (MRC) is also providing on­going help.


Greg – Kan.: I am about to turn 65. I work for a state university in Kansas with a good group health plan. I don’t plan to retire. I spoke with our benefits office and with Social Security. The only benefit to signing up for Medicare Part A appears to be that it could pay part of a deductible for a hospital stay. Here’s my question: How high does my employer’s deductible need to be to make joining Medicare Part A worthwhile?  How do I make the appropriate cost-benefit calculation?

Phil Moeller: It’s not clear from your question whether you do or do not pay Social Security payroll taxes for your job. However, in either case, there’s really no cost-benefit analysis required.

If you are not qualified to someday claim Social Security benefits, it means you would need to pay Part A premiums. Thus, the key number here is not the annual Part A deductible, but the steep premium for Part A, which is likely to be $407 a month. For this price, there is no way Part A makes sense for you.

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Philip Moeller Journalist Philip Moeller, who writes widely on health and retirement, is here to provide the Medicare answers you need in “Ask Phil, the Medicare Maven.” Send your questions to Phil. Moeller is a research fellow at the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College and co-author of “How to Live to 100.” He wrote his latest book, “How to Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security,” with Making Sen$e’s Paul Solman and Larry Kotlikoff. He is now working on a companion book about Medicare. Follow him on Twitter @PhilMoeller or e-mail him at medicarephil@gmail.com.


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