The highest penalties on hospitals are charged after knee or hip replacements, $265,000 per excess readmission.[31] The goals are to encourage better post-hospital care and more referrals to hospice and end-of-life care in lieu of treatment,[32][33] while the effect is also to reduce coverage in hospitals that treat poor and frail patients.[34][35] The total penalties for above-average readmissions in 2013 are $280 million,[36] for 7,000 excess readmissions, or $40,000 for each readmission above the US average rate.[37]

When you apply for Medicare, you can sign up for Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). Because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you can turn it down. However, if you decide to enroll in Part B later on, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. Your monthly premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B, but didn’t sign up for it, unless you qualify for a special enrollment period.