Medicaid is a program of comprehensive medical coverage for people with low income and few assets other than the home they live in. If you’re only income is from a small Social Security check, and if you have not more than a couple of thousand dollars in savings, you are likely to qualify for Medicaid. If you are eligible for Medicaid, Medicaid would pay the full amount of your Medicare Part B monthly premium once you reach age 65. Medicaid would also pay most of the costs Medicare Part A and Part B do not pay for Medicare-covered care
in this situation, you do not get Medicare coverage immediately. Under current law, you must wait for 24 months after being approved for SSDI before Medicare health benefits under Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (doctors’ visits and other outpatient services) can begin.
Once the 24 months have elapsed, you receive Part A automatically and get the option of enrolling in Part B. At this stage, if you already have health insurance from your own or your spouse’s employer, it is very important to contact the employer’s benefits administrators to find out what their policy is.
Some employer health plans (and Tricare is one of them) require enrollees who become entitled to Medicare—whether at age 65 or at an earlier age through disability—to enroll in Part B in order to remain eligible for the employer’s health benefits. If this is the case, Medicare becomes the primary coverage (meaning that Medicare pays claims first) and the employer plan becomes secondary. If the employer has fewer than 20 employees, Medicare usually becomes primary coverage automatically.
In these circumstances, if you don’t enroll in Part B at the right time, your employer insurance will not cover any of your bills for services that Medicare covers. The “right time” is during your seven-month initial enrollment period for Medicare, which lasts from three months before the month in which you receive your 25th disability check to three months after that month. For example, if your 25th check arrives (or is due to arrive) in April, you can enroll in Part B between January 1 and July 31. Once the initial enrollment period has expired, you can enroll in Part B only during open enrollment, which runs from January 1 to March 31, with coverage beginning July 1—and you’d also face a 10 percent penalty on your Part B premium for every full 12-month period that you’d delayed enrolling.