WASHINGTON – Sen. Charles E. Schumer Wednesday warned seniors that they need to enroll in Medicare even though the government doesn’t warn them that they could be subject to extra fees and penalties if they don’t.
In a conference call with reporters, Schumer said he is pushing for legislation that would require the federal government to notify seniors six months before they become eligible for Medicare that they must enroll in the health care program for the elderly.
“It may sound simple, but this notice is so much more than a reminder – it’s a lifeline,” said Schumer, D-N.Y. “Millions of seniors in New York rely on their Medicare benefits to lead comfortable, independent and healthy lives. But unfortunately, Medicare’s current rules are so convoluted that many seniors are at risk of facing critical gaps in coverage when they could desperately need these benefits, or face exorbitant, lifetime penalties that could negatively impact their quality of life.
He noted that seniors who do not enroll in Medicare during their initial enrollment period may have to wait a year to do so, and are hit with a 10 percent penalty on their Medicare Part B premium for every year that they are not enrolled.
In Western New York, approximately 75,345 seniors became eligible to receive Medicare benefits between 2010 and 2015, and an estimated 87,314 are or will become eligible between 2015 and 2020.