Methods to cope with Medicare when returning to the US after a keep overseas

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If you are living overseas by the age of 65, Medicare should not be overlooked.

This is the age you should sign up unless you run into an exception. And depending on how long you plan to stay or work overseas, it can make sense to be on Medicare.

“It is important that beneficiaries living abroad understand the rules in this area,” said Danielle Roberts, co-founder of insurance company Boomer Benefits.

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Otherwise, she said, you could go back to the US and wait for coverage to begin – in addition to penalties for late enrollment.

Basic Medicare has two parts. Part A, which covers hospital insurance, is free as long as you have been paying into the system for at least 10 years. Part B (outpatient care) has a premium. In 2021, the base amount is $ 148.50, although higher earners pay more.

Except in very special situations, Medicare Basic does not cover medical benefits received outside of the United States and its territories. The exceptions include if you are on a ship within six hours of a US port, or, for example, you are in Alaska and the closest hospital is in Canada.

Even so, anyone living overseas may still want to sign up for Medicare.

It is important that beneficiaries living abroad know the relevant rules.

Danielle Roberts

Co-founder of Boomer Benefits

Eligibility for Medicare begins at age 65. You will receive what is known as an initial enrollment phase, which begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after (a total of seven months).

The general rule is that unless you have qualified insurance coverage (as defined by the U.S. government), you will face a late enrollment penalty if you enroll for Part B after your initial enrollment deadline. This corresponds to a 10% higher monthly basic premium for every 12-month period that you should have enrolled but were not. And these sentences are lifelong.

The rule also applies to people living abroad. According to Medicare expert Patricia Barry, author of Medicare for Dummies, if the initial enrollment deadline is missed, you can late enroll without penalties in the following circumstances:

  • You work for an employer (US or foreign) who offers you private group health insurance.
  • You work for an employer with no special health benefits, but you are insured in the national health system of the country in which you live.
  • You are self-employed and subject to the national health system of the country in which you live.
  • You are the spouse of a person in the above three categories with the same coverage.
  • You are doing voluntary service abroad and have health insurance from a recognized supporting organization such as the Peace Corps.

Otherwise, you will have to expect late enrollment delays if you miss your first enrollment period.

Be aware that you will also need to prove that you had qualified insurance coverage while working abroad, Barry said. In other words, keep things like tax returns, pay slips, medical certificates, and records of doctor visits and bills.

In addition, if you are late for Medicare, there are different situations with different check-in times.

For example, if you are given a “special enrollment deadline” because you had qualifying insurance and were employed, that enrollment window begins when you lose that insurance (or employment, whichever comes first) and lasts eight months. In this case, your insurance coverage begins one month after your registration.

However, if you don’t have a qualifying health insurance plan and you sign up late, you can only sign up during Medicare’s general registration period, which runs from January 1st to March 31st. Then you have to wait until the insurance cover takes effect on July 1st.

Regardless, if you live overseas and don’t qualify for Free Part A, and you enroll for Medicare after age 65, you will be given a three month window from the time you return to the US to enroll. There are no late penalties in this situation.

If you’re planning on traveling back and forth between the U.S. and your overseas study abroad, it can make sense to be enrolled with Medicare if you didn’t have insurance otherwise, said Elizabeth Gavino, founder of Lewin & Gavino and independent broker and general agent for Medicare -Plans.

“With Parts A and B, the Medicare beneficiary receives [some] Reporting when they get to the US, “said Gavino.

Meanwhile, Medicare Part D is coverage for prescription drugs and is sold through private plans – either as a standalone policy or as part of a benefit plan (Part C) that includes Parts A and B, and usually includes extras like dentistry and eyesight . As with Basic Medicare, you will not receive Part-D coverage abroad.

There is no late enrollment penalty for overseas residents enrolling for Part D upon return to the U.S. as long as you are insured within a certain period of time after moving (either two or three months, depending on your specifics Situation). ).

If you miss your time slot, you face a life penalty of 1% for every month that you did not have, but should have had, coverage, along with a possible delay in the coverage taking effect. This penalty amount is based on the Part D base premium, which is approximately $ 33 for 2021.

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