Mar 21, 2011

Can you drop Medicare Part A and retain Social Security benefits?

A federal judge has ruled that retirees cannot disenroll from Medicare Part A without losing Social Security benefits and refunding all the Social Security benefits that have been paid to them. The case was brought by federal employees who want to drop their Medicare Part A coverage in favor of other insurance, but want to retain their Social Security benefits.

The ruling was based on the notion that providing a mechanism for opting out of Medicare benefits is "contrary to congressional intent, which was to provide 'mandatory' benefits under Medicare Part A for those receiving Social Security Retirement benefits."  Medicare Part A covers hospital costs for those age 65 and up.

What's notable is the ruling's implications for the new federal health insurance legislation. The law's challengers maintain that the law cannot mandate citizens to participate in the program, because it is illegal for the federal government to compel citizens into economic activity. But with this new ruling, it appears that the government has been doing that for 46 years, since the Medicare program was established!

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