Medicare Blog

when can medicare advantage be secondary to employer group

by Mrs. Geraldine Wilderman MD Published 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago

Medicare will be your secondary coverage if you’re diagnosed with ESRD, have group employer coverage, and have been Medicare-eligible for less than 30 months. Receiving Workers Compensation Your workers’ compensation will pay first if you’re injured or become sick on the job. Medicare will pay second.

If the employer has 20 or more employees, then the group health plan pays first, and Medicare pays second.

Full Answer

Can Medicare Advantage be the secondary payer?

Sometimes Medicare is the primary payer, and sometimes the secondary payer. So, can Medicare Advantage be the secondary payer? Certainly Medicare can be the primary or the secondary payer, depending on the situation.

Is Medicare primary or secondary for employees?

As long as you work for a small employer, Medicare is primary. If the company has over 20 employees, Medicare is secondary. If you’re not sure, talk to the benefits administrator in the office where you work. Between Veterans Association Benefits and Medicare, Who is Primary? Medicare and Veterans benefits don’t work together; both are primary.

What is secondary Medicare insurance?

Secondary insurance helps cover out-of-pocket costs left over after your primary coverage pays their portion. There are a few common scenarios when Medicare is secondary. An example includes having group coverage through a larger employer with more than 20 employees.

Does Medicare pay first or second if you have multiple employers?

If your or your spouse's employer has less than 20 employees and isn't part of a multi-employer or multiple employer group health plan, then Medicare pays first, and the group health plan pays second. Medicare pays first. Medicare may pay second if both of these apply: At least one or more of the other employers has 20 or more employees.


Can Medicare Advantage plans have a secondary?

The answer to the second question is that your Medicare Advantage plan is primary. Nothing is secondary when you have a Medicare Advantage plan, not even Medicare.

Are Medicare Advantage plans primary or secondary?

Is Medicare Advantage Primary or Secondary? When you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, the carrier pays for your medical care instead of Medicare. Therefore, Medicare is no longer responsible to pay your claims. Your Medicare Advantage plan is your primary, and only, coverage.

What is Medicare Secondary Payer Rule?

Generally the Medicare Secondary Payer rules prohibit employers with 20 or more employees from in any way incentivizing an active employee age 65 or older to elect Medicare instead of the group health plan, which includes offering a financial incentive.

Can you have employer coverage and Medicare at the same time?

Can I have Medicare and employer coverage at the same time? Yes, you can have both Medicare and employer-provided health insurance. In most cases, you will become eligible for Medicare coverage when you turn 65, even if you are still working and enrolled in your employer's health plan.

How do you determine which insurance is primary and which is secondary?

The "primary payer" pays what it owes on your bills first, and then sends the rest to the "secondary payer" to pay. The insurance that pays first is called the primary payer. The primary payer pays up to the limits of its coverage. The insurance that pays second is called the secondary payer.

Why do doctors not like Medicare Advantage plans?

If they don't say under budget, they end up losing money. Meaning, you may not receive the full extent of care. Thus, many doctors will likely tell you they do not like Medicare Advantage plans because private insurance companies make it difficult for them to get paid for their services.

When would a biller most likely submit a claim to secondary insurance?

If a claim has a remaining balance after the primary insurance has paid, you will want to submit the claim to the secondary insurance, if one applies.

How do you fill out CMS 1500 when Medicare is secondary?

0:239:21Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) CMS-1500 Submission - YouTubeYouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clipHere when the insured. And the patient are the same the biller enters the word. Same if medicare isMoreHere when the insured. And the patient are the same the biller enters the word. Same if medicare is primary this item is left blank.

How does Medicare calculate secondary payment?

As secondary payer, Medicare pays the lowest of the following amounts: (1) Excess of actual charge minus the primary payment: $175−120 = $55. (2) Amount Medicare would pay if the services were not covered by a primary payer: . 80 × $125 = $100.

What is secondary insurance coverage?

Secondary health insurance is coverage you can buy separately from a medical plan. It helps cover you for care and services that your primary medical plan may not. This secondary insurance could be a vision plan, dental plan, or an accidental injury plan, to name a few.

Can a company pay Medicare premiums for an employee?

Can my employer pay my Medicare premiums? Employers can't pay employees' Medicare premiums directly. However, they can designate funds for workers to apply for health insurance coverage and premium payments with a Section 105 plan.

Will Medicare pay secondary if primary denies?

If your primary insurance denies coverage, secondary insurance may or may not pay some part of the cost, depending on the insurance. If you do not have primary insurance, your secondary insurance may make little or no payment for your health care costs.

How to choose between Medicare and employer coverage?

Choosing between Medicare and employer coverage. If you are eligible for both Medicare and employer coverage, you will generally have three options: Keep both types of coverage. Drop your employer coverage and just have Medicare. Delay Medicare enrollment and just have employer coverage.

How long do you have to enroll in Medicare?

When your employer coverage does finally end, you will be given eight months to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B, and you’ll have 63 days to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan before facing any late enrollment penalties.

How old do you have to be to be on Medicare?

Being under 65 years old with a disability. If you are under 65 but are enrolled in Medicare because of a disability and are also covered by an employer health plan, the employer will serve as the primary payer if it has more than 100 employees. With fewer than 100 employees, Medicare becomes the primary payer.

What is Medicare payer?

When enrolled in both Medicare and employer insurance, each type of coverage is called a “ payer .”. Which type of coverage pays first depends largely on the size of your employer.

Can you keep Medicare and Cobra?

If you are first enrolled in Medicare and then become eligible for COBRA, you may keep both types of coverage . Medicare will serve as the primary payer, and COBRA will act as the secondary payer.

Is Medicare a primary or secondary payer?

Medicare acts as the secondary payer. Medicare categorizes a company of fewer than 20 employees as “small.”. If you are an active employee at a small company, Medicare will be the primary payer. Any employer coverage you receive will be the secondary payer.

Is tricare a primary payer?

TRICARE. For active military members with TRICARE, TRICARE works as the primary payer, and Medicare is the secondary payer. Retired members of the military who receive TRICARE for Life are required to enroll in Medicare Part B if eligible, and Medicare will serve as their primary payer. Veterans Affairs (VA)

What is conditional payment?

A conditional payment is a payment Medicare makes for services another payer may be responsible for.

What is Medicare Secondary Payer?

Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) is the term generally used when the Medicare program does not have primary payment responsibility - that is, when another entity has the responsibility for paying before Medicare. When Medicare began in 1966, it was the primary payer for all claims except for those covered by Workers' Compensation, ...

Why is Medicare conditional?

Medicare makes this conditional payment so that the beneficiary won’t have to use his own money to pay the bill. The payment is “conditional” because it must be repaid to Medicare when a settlement, judgment, award or other payment is made. Federal law takes precedence over state laws and private contracts.

How long does ESRD last on Medicare?

Individual has ESRD, is covered by a GHP and is in the first 30 months of eligibility or entitlement to Medicare. GHP pays Primary, Medicare pays secondary during 30-month coordination period for ESRD.

What are the responsibilities of an employer under MSP?

As an employer, you must: Ensure that your plans identify those individuals to whom the MSP requirement applies; Ensure that your plans provide for proper primary payments whereby law Medicare is the secondary payer; and.

What is the purpose of MSP?

The MSP provisions have protected Medicare Trust Funds by ensuring that Medicare does not pay for items and services that certain health insurance or coverage is primarily responsible for paying. The MSP provisions apply to situations when Medicare is not the beneficiary’s primary health insurance coverage.

What age does GHP pay?

Individual is age 65 or older, is covered by a GHP through current employment or spouse’s current employment AND the employer has 20 or more employees (or at least one employer is a multi-employer group that employs 20 or more individuals): GHP pays Primary, Medicare pays secondary. Individual is age 65 or older, ...

How does Medicare work with other insurance?

When there's more than one payer, "coordination of benefits" rules decide which one pays first. The "primary payer" pays what it owes on your bills first, and then sends the rest to the "secondary payer" (supplemental payer) ...

How many employees does a spouse have to have to be on Medicare?

Your spouse’s employer must have 20 or more employees, unless the employer has less than 20 employees, but is part of a multi-employer plan or multiple employer plan. If the group health plan didn’t pay all of your bill, the doctor or health care provider should send the bill to Medicare for secondary payment.

How long does it take for Medicare to pay a claim?

If the insurance company doesn't pay the claim promptly (usually within 120 days), your doctor or other provider may bill Medicare. Medicare may make a conditional payment to pay the bill, and then later recover any payments the primary payer should have made. If Medicare makes a. conditional payment.

What is a group health plan?

If the. group health plan. In general, a health plan offered by an employer or employee organization that provides health coverage to employees and their families.

What is the difference between primary and secondary insurance?

The insurance that pays first (primary payer) pays up to the limits of its coverage. The one that pays second (secondary payer) only pays if there are costs the primary insurer didn't cover. The secondary payer (which may be Medicare) may not pay all the uncovered costs.

When does Medicare pay for COBRA?

When you’re eligible for or entitled to Medicare due to End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), during a coordination period of up to 30 months, COBRA pays first. Medicare pays second, to the extent COBRA coverage overlaps the first 30 months of Medicare eligibility or entitlement based on ESRD.

What is the phone number for Medicare?

It may include the rules about who pays first. You can also call the Benefits Coordination & Recovery Center (BCRC) at 1-855-798-2627 (TTY: 1-855-797-2627).

Key Takeaways

Medicare is the primary payer for beneficiaries who do not have other coverage through plans offered by employers, other groups, or unions, except under certain circumstances.

Can I have Medicare and Employer Health Insurance Together?

Yes, you can have both Medicare and employer health insurance together. When you have Medicare and other health insurance or coverage, you have more than one “payer.” In these instances, “coordination of benefits” rules will decide which payer pays first.

Does Medicare Cover Deductibles and Copays as Secondary Insurance?

The downside of having two insurance plans (group and Medicare) is that you pay two sets of premiums and deductibles. Your secondary insurance will not pay toward your primary health insurance deductible, and it’s likely you will still have to pay out-of-pocket costs.

Can I still use my Part A coverage even when I don't have Part B?

Yes, you can use Medicare Part A coverage even if you delay enrollment in Part B. However, unless you have other creditable coverage (like employer coverage) you should enroll in Part B, to avoid penalties in the future.


Coordination of benefits (COB) is relevant for individuals with more than one primary payer. It is used to determine which insurance plan has the primary payment responsibility and the extent to which each plan covers an individual.

What happens if you leave Medicare without a creditable coverage letter?

Without creditable coverage during the time you’ve been Medicare-eligible, you’ll incur late enrollment penalties. When you leave your group health coverage, the insurance carrier will mail you a creditable coverage letter. You’ll need to show this letter to Medicare to protect yourself from late penalties.

What is a Health Reimbursement Account?

Beneficiaries who participate can get tax-free reimbursements, including their Part B premium. A Health Reimbursement Account is a well-known Section 105 plan. An HRA reimburses eligible employees for their premiums, as well as other medical costs.

What is CMS L564?

You will need your employer to fill out the CMS-L564 form. This form is a request for employment information form. Once the employer completes section B of the form, you can send in the document with your application to enroll in Medicare.

What happens if you don't have Part B insurance?

If you don’t, your employer’s group plan can refuse to pay your claims. Your insurance might cover claims even if you don’t have Part B, but we always recommend enrolling in Part B. Your carrier can change that at any time, with no warning, leaving you responsible for outpatient costs.

Can employers contribute to Medicare premiums?

Medicare Premiums and Employer Contributions. Per CMS, it’s illegal for employers to contribute to Medica re premiums. The exception is employers who set up a 105 Reimbursement Plan for all employees. The reimbursement plan deducts money from the employees’ salaries to buy individual insurance policies.

Is Medicare billed first or second?

If your employer has fewer than 20 employees, then Medicare becomes primary. This means Medicare is billed first, and your employer plan will be billed second. If you have small group insurance, it’s HIGHLY recommended that you enroll in both Parts A and B as soon as you’re eligible. If you don’t, your employer’s group plan can refuse ...

Is a $4,000 hospital deductible a creditable plan?

For your outpatient and medication insurance, a plan from an employer with over 20 employees is creditable coverage. This safeguards you from having to pay late enrollment penalties for Part B and Part D, ...

How does Medicare work with insurance carriers?

Generally, a Medicare recipient’s health care providers and health insurance carriers work together to coordinate benefits and coverage rules with Medicare. However, it’s important to understand when Medicare acts as the secondary payer if there are choices made on your part that can change how this coordination happens.

How old do you have to be to be covered by a group health plan?

Over the age of 65 and covered by an employment-related group health plan as a current employee or the spouse of a current employee in an organization that shares a plan with other employers with more than 20 employees between them.

What is secondary payer?

A secondary payer assumes coverage of whatever amount remains after the primary payer has satisfied its portion of the benefit, up to any limit established by the policies of the secondary payer coverage terms.

Is Medicare a secondary payer?

Medicare is the secondary payer if the recipient is: Over the age of 65 and covered by an employment-related group health plan as a current employee or the spouse of a current employee in an organization with more than 20 employees.

Who is responsible for making sure their primary payer reimburses Medicare?

Medicare recipients may be responsible for making sure their primary payer reimburses Medicare for that payment. Medicare recipients are also responsible for responding to any claims communications from Medicare in order to ensure their coordination of benefits proceeds seamlessly.

Does Medicare pay conditional payments?

In any situation where a primary payer does not pay the portion of the claim associated with that coverage, Medicare may make a conditional payment to cover the portion of a claim owed by the primary payer. Medicare recipients may be responsible for making sure their primary payer reimburses Medicare for that payment.

How to learn more about Medicare?

How to Learn More About Your Medicare Options. Primary insurance isn't too hard to understand; it's just knowing which insurance pays the claim first. Medical billing personnel can always help you figure it out if you're having trouble. While it's not hard to understand primary insurance, Medicare is its own beast.

What is a small employer?

Those with small employer health insurance will have Medicare as the primary insurer. A small employer means less than 20 employees in the company. When you have small employer coverage, Medicare will pay first, and the plan pays second. If your employer is small, you must have both Part A and Part B. Having small employer insurance without ...

Is Medicare a primary or secondary insurance?

Mostly, Medicare is primary. The primary insurer is the one that pays the claim first, whereas the secondary insurer pays second. With a Medigap policy, the supplement is secondary. Medicare pays claims first, and then Medigap pays. But, depending on the other policy, you have Medicare could be a secondary payer.

Does Medicare pay your claims?

Since the Advantage company pays the claims, that plan is primary. Please note that Medicare WON’T pay your claims when you have an Advantage plan. Medicare doesn’t become secondary to an Advantage plan. So, you’ll rely on the Advantage plan for claim approvals.

Can you use Medicare at a VA hospital?

Medicare and Veterans benefits don’t work together; both are primary. When you go to a VA hospital, Veteran benefits are primary. Then, if you go to a civilian doctor or hospital, Medicare is primary. But, you CAN’T use Veterans benefits at a civilian doctor. Also, you can’t use Medicare benefits at the VA.

Is Medicare primary insurance in 2021?

Updated on July 13, 2021. Many beneficiaries wonder if Medicare is primary insurance. But, the answer depends on several factors. While there are times when Medicare becomes secondary insurance, for the most part, it’s primary. Let’s go into further detail about what “primary” means, and when it applies.

Is Medicare a part of tricare?

Medicare is primary to TRICARE. If you have Part A, you need Part B to remain eligible for TRICARE. But, Part D isn’t a requirement. Also, TRICARE covers your prescriptions. Your TRICARE will be similar to a Medigap plan; it covers deductibles and coinsurances.

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