Too many people who delay retirement beyond age 65 don’t realize that they still may need to sign up for Medicare.
Delaying Medicare Part B enrollment can lead to a lifetime of late-enrollment penalties, gaps in coverage, unexpected out-of-pocket health care costs and even delayed access to care, according to a U.S. Senate document.
All of those harsh penalties are being imposed on Americans for no good reason.
In 2018, approximately 760,000 people — including 9,000 Hoosiers — paid lifelong Part B late-enrollment penalties, with the average penalty amounting to a 28% increase in their monthly premiums.
Finally, someone is doing something about this nonsensical system — and it took a couple of common-sense Hoosiers.
Sen. Todd Young of Indiana is co-authoring the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification Act. It’s a long title with a simple goal — stop over-punishing people who sign up late for Medicare.
“Seniors who miss the signup deadline for Medicare Part B face onerous penalties that persist for the rest of their lives. The BENES Act will make the signup process more efficient and friendly to our seniors,” Young said about his bill.
U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana is leading the charge to pass a similar bill in the U.S. House.
“As more and more Americans reach Medicare age, we need to simplify the Part B enrollment process and improve education and outreach to seniors,” Walorski said. “These bipartisan reforms will protect seniors from unnecessary late-enrollment penalties, gaps in coverage, and unexpected health care bills.”
Walorski mentioned that the effort to reform Medicare enrollment is nonpartisan. Young and Walorski are Republicans, but each is working with a Democratic partner on their bills.
We applaud Young and Walorski for rising above the political drama in Washington and working with rivals to do work on something to help Americans of every political stripe.
Scam calls are more than annoying
Young also co-sponsored the TRACED Act that passed the Senate last week on by 97-1 margin.
It’s hard to believe that even one senator voted against the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act.
The bill cracks down harder on phone scammers. It also promotes strategies to prevent and block unwanted calls.
“Hoosiers are fed up with the increasing number of robocall scams that are flooding their phones. These calls, sometimes reaching 10 a day, are more than just an annoyance, they are a real threat to the vulnerable people they are designed to prey on,” Young said.
Unless you actually burst a blood vessel in anger at annoying calls, the bigger threat is that some people fall for the scams and lose thousands of dollars.
In a news interview last week, we heard the wise advice that new laws and more convictions can do only so much to keep people safe from scams.
We hope the TRACED Act will reduce the number of dangerous calls that actually reach people’s telephones.
Still, education must play a key role in protecting people’s bank accounts.
A new study shows that older Americans can become vulnerable to scammers earlier than we thought. They can make poor decisions about scam calls long before any other signs of poor judgment become apparent.
People should look into ways of protecting their savings from scammers, possibly by moving them into safer accounts where they can’t be accessed so easily by swindlers. Making that process easier could be another good project for Young and his fellow lawmakers.
OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Dave Kurtz, Grace Housholder, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. Publisher Terry Housholder is also a member of the editorial board. We welcome readers’ comments.