How to Disenroll from Medicare Part B
Medicare Part B helps qualified Americans pay health care costs related to doctor visits, lab testing, preventative services, and more, but this coverage isn't free, and not everyone needs it. Those who don’t need Part B can disenroll—but it’s not a straightforward process.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) doesn’t make it easy to drop this coverage, and you'll need to speak with a representative to disenroll. If you cancel Part B, it could also impact your ability to afford coverage in the future, so read this entire article before you begin the process.
How to cancel Medicare Part B
The Part B cancellation process begins with downloading and printing Form CMS 1763, but don’t fill it out yet. You’ll need to complete the form during an interview with a representative of the Social Security Administration (SSA) by phone or in person.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Social Security Administration offices are currently closed. The SSA is still answering phone calls, and you can access many services on its website. See the latest COVID-19 updates.
You can schedule an in-person or over-the-phone interview by contacting the SSA. If you prefer an in-person interview, use the Social Security Office Locator to find your nearest location. During your interview, fill out Form CMS 1763 as directed by the representative. If you’ve already received your Medicare card, you’ll need to return it during your in-person interview or mail it back after your phone interview.
What happens next depends on why you’re canceling your Part B coverage.
Canceling Part B because you were automatically enrolled
Some people are automatically enrolled in Part B if they're receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits when they become eligible for Medicare. If that's you, there's a good chance your Medicare card will arrive in the mail even if you haven't applied for benefits.
If you don’t want this coverage and don’t opt out, you’ll be responsible for Part B premiums, which may come straight out of your Social Security or RRB checks. But beware: if you opt out of Part B without having creditable coverage—that is, employer-sponsored health insurance from your current job that’s as good or better than Medicare—you could face late-enrollment penalties (LEPs) down the line.
Canceling Part B because you got a job with insurance
If you have had Part B for a while but no longer need it because you’ve rejoined the workforce with access to employer-sponsored health insurance, congratulations! But before you drop Part B, find out if your job’s coverage is primary or secondary to Medicare.
A primary payer health plan pays before Medicare. That means your employer-provided health plan will cover its share of your health care costs first, and if there’s anything left over that Medicare covers, Medicare will pay what remains.
Conversely, a secondary payer health plan covers only costs left over after Medicare covers its share.
If your health plan at work is a primary payer, that’s great. Feel free to drop your Part B coverage if you wish. The Part B premiums might not be worth any additional coverage you receive. But if you have secondary-payer insurance at work, it’s usually better to keep Part B, or you could get stuck paying Medicare’s share of your health care expenses.
Talk to your human resources department at work to find out if your employer-sponsored plan is primary or secondary to Medicare. Generally, businesses with 20 or fewer employees have secondary payer plans, while larger companies have primary payer plans.
Canceling Part B because you can’t afford the premiums
If you don’t have a job with creditable health care coverage but still don’t want to pay Part B premiums, use caution. Without health insurance that’s as good or better than Medicare, you could start racking up late-enrollment penalties the longer you go without coverage. If you decide to re-enroll in Part B later, these penalties could make your premiums (what you pay for coverage) even less affordable.
If you can't afford your Part B premiums, consider other options before canceling your coverage. You can apply for Medicaid coverage if you're in a low-income household or have few assets. Medicare also offers several savings programs, which help qualified individuals pay their Medicare expenses.
How Medicare Advantage can save you money on your Part B premiums
If you don't qualify for the above programs, you still have options. Consider a Medicare Advantage plan that offers a rebate on your Part B premium. Here's how that works:
A Medicare Advantage plan provides the same or better coverage than Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). To receive this coverage, most enrollees pay a premium for their Medicare Advantage plan in addition to the cost of Part B.
But in some areas, typically large cities, Medicare Advantage providers offer $0 plans to better compete with other insurance companies. A few go even further and offer enrollees a rebate on their Part B premiums. If you enroll in one of these plans, you could pay a lower monthly Part B premium—and have more benefits, such as prescription drug, dental, vision, and hearing coverage.
These plans aren't available in all areas, but even the average Medicare Advantage plan could help save you money. With most plans, you won't have to pay an extra premium for prescription drug coverage or dental insurance, for example, which could free up some cash to cover the Part B premium.
To find out if a Medicare Advantage plan could save you money, give us a call.
Should you disenroll from Medicare Part B?
Disenrolling in Medicare Part B isn’t an easy process because it requires an in-person or phone interview. But this is intentional. Canceling Part B could have negative consequences for your wallet (in the form of late-enrollment penalties) and your health (in the form of a gap in coverage).
Consequences of canceling Part B
If you have a gap in coverage, the Medicare program could tack late-enrollment penalties onto your Part B premiums if you re-enroll in coverage again later. Avoid this pitfall by working with your human resources department to ensure that your company's insurance is indeed creditable (meaning that it’s as good or better than Medicare Part B). You may need to provide documentation of creditable coverage during your Part B cancellation interview.
A gap in coverage could also adversely affect your health if you avoid seeing the doctor because you don’t have health insurance. And you may have to go without other forms of coverage too. Without Part B, you can't enroll in other parts of Medicare, such as Part D prescription drug coverage, Medicare Supplement (Medigap), or Medicare Advantage. These gaps will remain until you re-enroll in Part B again later.
Proceed with caution
If you do decide to cancel your Part B coverage, take the proper steps to protect yourself against the consequences mentioned above.
If you’re dropping Part B because you can’t afford the premiums, remember that you could save money on your health care costs in other ways. Consider adding a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan instead of dropping Part B. Call us to learn more about these alternatives to disenrolling in Part B.
Can I re-enroll in Part B later?
If you disenroll from Part B, you may re-enroll later if you change your mind, although you may be subject to late-enrollment penalties if you don’t have other appropriate coverage in place.
Can I re-enroll online?
Unfortunately, if you have Part A but choose not to keep Part B, you might not be able to re-enroll in Part B online. Instead, you’ll need to download, print, and sign a few forms. Learn more about re-enrolling in Part B.
How can I avoid late-enrollment penalties?
If you've had employer-sponsored coverage, you may need to prove it to avoid late-enrollment penalties. Once you confirm you've had coverage, you'll be granted a special enrollment period (SEP) so you can re-enroll in Part B right away.
During your SEP, you may also be able to add a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, Medicare Advantage, or Medigap plan.
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