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Canceling Medicare: Consumer Q&A

By on December 3rd, 2010
Filed: Facts, Medicare

In a season when so many seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries are reviewing their Medicare coverage options and signing up for new plans, let’s flip the coin and find out what happens when you want to cancel your Medicare.

Why, you might ask, would anyone want to cancel their Medicare?

Well, recently on Yahoo Answers, Keith responded to a consumer that wanted to cancel her Medicare coverage because she was going to be leaving the country for a year.  She didn’t give much information about her situation (she didn’t, for example, state which kind of Medicare coverage she currently had), but I thought our response was interesting:

Are you asking about canceling your Medicare Parts A and B? Or were you asking about a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan, a Medicare Advantage plan, or a Medigap plan? It may make a difference.

Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) is free, so no issue there.

The costs for Medicare Part B (physician coverage) are deducted from your Social Security automatically. It may be simplest to keep paying for it since it’s not that expensive and you can face a fee if you cancel and then want to re-enroll.

You can cancel your Part D (prescription drug) coverage when you leave the country. In fact, you should do so. But be aware that you’ll need to re-enroll in a timely manner on your return to avoid a penalty.

Talk to your insurer about canceling your Medicare Advantage or Medigap plans.

You can find some more information about penalties for Part D and Part B cancellations here.

Photo via Flickr user Dorkymum.

About Douglas Dalrymple

Doug Dalrymple is a member of the communications team at eHealth, Inc. and has worked in the health insurance and technology industries for fifteen years. He works on communications strategy, content creation and management, project management, and corporate messaging.

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