Human Resources

Medicare basics

Medicare is a federal program designed to ensure that people who are age 65 and over have basic medical insurance. Over the course of your working life, you have been paying a Medicare payroll tax. This tax funds Medicare Part A. Medicare Parts B, C and D are not funded by payroll tax and therefore will cost you money once you enroll.

Medicare Parts B, C and D are not required if you are an employee who is still working and covered under one of our medical plans,  If you do choose to enroll in Medicare while you are still working, your Reed medical plan will assume primary paying position and your Medicare plan will be secondary. Enrolling in Medicare while you are still working is not necessarily going to afford you a greater benefit.


Medicare is individual insurance and does not cover spouses or dependents. Most people become eligible for Medicare based on turning age 65. Some people may become eligible before turning 65 due to disability or a few very specific medical conditions.

Medicare has four parts: A, B, C & D

Required Medicare: This is the insurance that you are required to have starting at age 65 unless you have credible coverage under an employer plan, such as a Reed College medical plan.

Part A: Hospital insurance (You pay into this via payroll tax during working years.)

Part B: Basic medical insurance (You pay for this once enrolled and monthly costs currently range from  $120 to $220.) It is required that you have this once you are 65 or older and are no longer covered under an employer-based medical plan.

Optional Medicare: Provided by private companies. You are not required to enroll in these plans but they provide additional benefits that supplement the basic coverage of Parts A and B. Some of these plans are called Supplemental Medicare and some are called Medicare Advantage. There are multiple vendors, plan options and price points available.

Part C: Medicare Advantage or Supplemental plans. These provide additional benefits on top of the basic hospital and medical insurance benefits or parts A and B. 

Part D: Prescription drug coverage provided by private companies.

I am turning 65 this year. What do I do about Medicare?

Most people choose to enroll in Medicare Part A when they turn 65 as it is free and will automatically coordinate with your Reed medical insurance plan. The easiest way to enroll is online. Enroll within three months (before or after) turning age 65. You do not need to enroll in Medicare Part B until you retire or leave Reed employment as the Reed College medical plan serves as your primary coverage.

If you are age 65 or above and plan to leave Reed College within the next year, we encourage you to make an appointment with someone in the HR office to help you plan your transition to Medicare.

My spouse/partner is turning 65 this year. What should they do about Medicare?

If your spouse or partner is covered by your Reed College medical plan, they will need to enroll in Medicare Part A within three months (before or after) of turning age 65. Their Reed College coverage serves as their primary coverage and will automatically coordinate with Medicare Part A. They can defer enrollment in Medicare Part B until they are no longer covered by the Reed College plan for active employees. 

Medicare communications

If you are close to age 65 you will likely receive a high volume of mailing about Medicare. Some of these communications are solicitations from vendors who want your business. You should pay attention to those that come directly from Social Security or from CMS (Centers for Medicare Services). 

Once you are enrolled in Medicare you will receive a card in the mail from CMS. The card will look something like the one that you see here. When you receive the card, ensure that the enrollment dates look correct. If you are actively working at Reed and still covered under one of our medical plans, make sure that your Part B coverage does not have a start date next to it, as you can defer enrollment until you leave employment or retire from Reed.

Additional information

This page is designed to provide general Medicare information to Reed employees but should not be your only source of information. For more information on Medicare, contact Social Security or Medicare directly. 

Medicare (for Medicare plan and coverage information and to check on enrollment)

Social Security (to enroll in Medicare and to acces general Medicare information)