Romney's decision sounds simple enough. Instead of relying on Medicare for his health coverage, he will keep his private health insurance plan. But there's a wrinkle: Although he certainly can afford it, Romney might face a hefty penalty if he changes his mind.
Nearly everyone over 65 is automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A, the program that covers hospital care and does not cost its beneficiaries anything. If you enroll in Social Security — which Romney has also chosen not to do — you are automatically entitled to Medicare Part A coverage as well, according to a recent court ruling.
The leading Republican candidate will still be eligible for Medicare Part B in the future. But if he has a change of heart and decides to enroll after June, he’ll likely get socked with a 10 percent late-enrollment penalty. That extra charge kicks in if you don’t sign up for Medicare during the seven-month enrollment period surrounding your 65th birthday.
Romney wants to stretch out the Medicare eligibility age for all Americans, starting in 2022, when today’s 55-year-olds will turn 65, as Bob Rosenblatt wrote in the Next Avenue article “Will You Have to Wait Past Age 65 to Get Medicare?”
Romney is the only current presidential candidate over 65 who has decided not to enroll in Medicare.
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