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AARP to Congress: Limit Medicare Late Enrollment Penalties

Document with title medicare part b.
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En español | More than 780,000 Medicare beneficiaries are paying significantly more in Medicare Part B premiums simply because they didn’t enroll when they first became eligible. AARP is supporting a bill that would place limits on those costly late penalties.

Medicare Part B covers doctor’s visits and tests, diagnostic screenings, medical equipment and other outpatient services. But individuals who don’t sign up when they’re first eligible and don’t qualify for a special enrollment period are charged an extra 10 percent of that premium for every year they delay — and the penalty lasts for as long as they’re enrolled.

The bipartisan Medicare Economic Security Solutions Act, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Katie Porter (D-California) and Young Kim (R-California), would cap the amount of the penalty at 15 percent of the premium, regardless of how long a person delays enrolling. It would also limit how long the penalty is charged.

Many people now paying the higher premiums didn’t know about the penalty when they became eligible for Medicare at 65, AARP told the lawmakers in a Nov. 28 letter endorsing the bill. Those hit with the penalty will pay an average of $47 a month more for their premiums in 2024, our letter noted.

“While originally intended to discourage people from waiting until they needed care before enrolling in Medicare, the current penalty usually puts a financial burden on beneficiaries for the rest of their lives, often at a period in their life when they can least afford it,” wrote Bill Sweeney, AARP senior vice president of government affairs.

AARP has long been committed to educating older Americans about how to enroll in Medicare and how to avoid the late penalties. Earlier this year, we endorsed a bill that would require the federal government to notify potential Medicare beneficiaries of their future Medicare eligibility every year, starting at age 60, to help older adults enroll on time and avert the costly penalties.

Read our latest endorsement and learn more about Medicare at AARP’s Medicare Resource Center.

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