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If you have other health insurance

Medicare hospital insurance is free for almost everyone, but you do pay a monthly premium for medical insurance. If you already have other health insurance when you become eligible for Medicare, is it worth the monthly premium cost to sign up for Medicare medical insurance?

The answer varies with each person and the kind of other health insurance you may have. Although we cannot give you "yes" or "no" answers, we can offer a few tips that may be helpful when you make your decision.

If you have a private insurance plan

Get in touch with your insurance agent to see how your private plan fits with Medicare medical insurance. This is especially important if you have family members who are covered under the same policy. And remember, just as Medicare does not cover all health services, most private plans do not either. In planning your health insurance coverage, keep in mind that most nursing home care is not covered by Medicare or private health insurance policies. One important word of caution: for your own protection, do not cancel any health insurance you now have until your Medicare coverage actually begins.

If you have insurance from an employer-provided group health plan

Group health plans of employers with 20 or more employees are required by law to offer workers and their spouses who are age 65 (or older) the same health benefits that are provided to younger employees.

If you are currently covered under an employer provided group health plan, you should talk to your personnel office before you sign up for Medicare medical insurance.

If you have health care protection from other plans

If you have coverage under a program from the Department of Defense, your health benefits may change or end when you become eligible for Medicare. You should contact the Department of Defense or a military health benefits advisor for information before you decide whether to enroll in Medicare medical insurance.

If you have health care protection from the Indian Health Service, Department of Veterans Affairs or a state medical assistance program, contact the people in those offices to help you decide whether it is to your advantage to have Medicare medical insurance.

For more information on how other health insurance plans work with Medicare call the Medicare toll-free number 1-800-MEDICARE(1-800-633-4227) and ask for Medicare And Other Health Benefits: Your Guide To Who Pays First (Publication No. CMS-02179) or visit www.medicare.gov. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call TTY 1-877-486-2048.


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Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration