My father is in his 70's. He was a self-employed professional who never put away any money for retirement. He is now living on a rural property that he owns, but his only monetary assets would be his social security check, which he spends by the end of the month. I'm trying to figure out what the financial consequences would be if he got seriously ill, and whether there is anything I can do or convince him to do that would help to make his outcome better. He is not willing to get vaccinated against covid, and in general he is not willing to have realistic discussions about topics like healthcare or long-term care.

If he paid medicare tax as he was required to while self-employed, he is probably eligible for free medicare part A. However, he's told me he "doesn't have medicare because of the premiums," which I assume means that he never signed up for medicare at all because of the part B premiums.

If I'm understanding the system correctly (which is a big if), then this means that he could still sign up for part A, but it's hard to see how that would actually help him. If he wound up hospitalized with covid or some other illness, part A coverage seems like it would basically cut the hospital's losses, but the drugs and services not covered by part A would drain his monetary assets on the first day. It looks like he could enroll late in part B, but there would be a heavy penalty, which I think would make it even less attractive to him now than before.

Is my analysis correct? If he has medical bills that he can't pay, can they come after his social security check and his house? Is there anything I can do or suggest that could help lead to a better set of probable outcomes for him?

  • Is he eligible for Medicaid?
    – user102008
    Oct 5, 2021 at 17:44
  • Ordinarily, the Medicare premium goes up 10% for each year after age 65 that was not enrolled. The website to read is medicare.gov .
    – S Spring
    Oct 5, 2021 at 17:50
  • 1
    If you have a low income and you are eligible for MEDICARE, you may also be eligible for MEDICAID. This is called “dual eligible” and then, you might not have premiums, deductibles, or copayments/coinsurance. The duration of how long you have to pay the Part A and Part B penalties are different. Oct 5, 2021 at 17:53
  • A QMB program for zero Medicare premiums has an income limit of $1094 and an asset limit of $7970. But the asset limit doesn't include home or one car. However, some states have a program that doesn't consider assets.
    – S Spring
    Oct 5, 2021 at 18:04
  • @SSpring: Did some more googling. Thanks, I was misunderstanding. He doesn't qualify for an SEP, but he does qualify for a GEP. He would have to pay a hefty penalty for enrolling late, but he could do it.
    – user112214
    Oct 5, 2021 at 18:05

2 Answers 2


You're off to a good start in figuring things out. Here's a resource on low income people and Medicare. Here's one on Medicare Advantage - "Part C" private plans, some of which have a monthly premium of $0.

The tougher battle might be to sell the idea to your Dad. Find a pitch that will work, e.g. "I will find all the benefits that are free from monthly charges and set them up for you." Then find those benefits without his involvement. Show him your results and the forms to sign at the end of your research.


I would suggest that you read the info available at the Medicare web site. It will give you a much better idea of what the different parts entail. It also addresses the penalties for late sign up for Part A and Part B.

  • I wasn't the downvoter, but actually I think the info in your comment about dual eligibility was more helpful than this. Maybe you could edit this answer to include that info. I think that would be a better answer.
    – user112214
    Oct 5, 2021 at 18:26
  • 1
    I really don't care about the downvotes. Answers that you receive here are not even going to scratch the surface and likely, not accurate. The Medicare web site will greatly increase your Medicare awareness and then the next step is to call Medicare and get factual numbers and appropriate answers. Good luck. Oct 5, 2021 at 19:08

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