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Can my employer force me to enroll in Medicare at age 65? 

It used to be that turning 65 meant retirement and Medicare enrollment.  Nowadays, with more people working past their 65th birthday, there are questions about how Medicare fits into this picture. Here is one. 

“I am turning 65 and my employer says I must enroll in Medicare. Is this legal?”

The answer depends on the size of the company sponsoring the group health plan.  If the company has 20 or more employees, it must offer the same coverage to those 65 years or older as it does to younger employees. It cannot force employees to enroll in Medicare or offer any incentives to do so. The employee can choose to keep the group health coverage or drop it and enroll in Medicare.

However, thing are different for a small company. Medicare secondary payer (MSP) laws dictate that a group plan sponsored by a company with fewer than 20 employees becomes the secondary payer. Medicare would be primary, which means that enrollment in Part A, hospital insurance, and Part B, medical insurance, is necessary. Without Medicare, it would be as though the individual had no insurance.

Employees who work for a company with fewer than 20 employees have two options. 

  • They can opt to discontinue the group plan. Those employees would enroll in Medicare.
  • They can continue with the coverage. In this case, the group plan generally becomes secondary to Medicare. The 65-year old employees would need to enroll in Part A, and Part B during the Initial Enrollment Period. The group health plan would help pay for eligible expenses that Medicare didn’t cover. If the plan’s drug coverage was creditable (meaning paying at least the same as a Part D plan would), there would be no need to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan
Last updated: 03-03-2020