How Does COBRA Work with Medicare?

COBRA has been around for 27 years to help many Americans who lose their employer-sponsored health coverage.

Employees or ex-employees of companies with more than 20 workers are allowed to continue receiving the same health benefits through COBRA if:

        • they experience a qualifying event such as job loss or divorce
        • they were covered under their employer’s group health plan when the qualifying event occurred

Certain qualifying events allow spouses and dependents to become eligible for COBRA. For example, if a family member loses a job and receives COBRA, that person’s spouse and dependents are eligible for COBRA as well.

What happens if I have COBRA and reach Medicare age?

When you are enrolled in Medicare, your COBRA will end. COBRA is intended only as a temporary measure to ensure you remain covered while in transition from employer healthcare. Although your COBRA may last up to 18 months, expect your COBRA coverage to end when you are enrolled in Medicare—although in some cases you may be able to keep COBRA coverage for services not covered by Medicare (such as dental or vision).

What about my spouse and dependents?

If your spouse is not Medicare-eligible, he or she may be able to retain COBRA coverage for up to 36 months. Dependents also may be eligible for up to 36 months.

I heard that having employer healthcare coverage guarantees that I will not have to pay any Medicare penalties if I enroll after age 65. Is this true?

This is generally true as long as you are working. However, you started receiving COBRA after working. You are not actively employed if you are receiving COBRA. Therefore, late enrollment penalties are likely to apply if you delay Medicare enrollment, and you can expect to be responsible for paying the Part B late enrollment penalty if you delay Part B enrollment.

What if I receive COBRA after enrolling in Medicare?

If you receive COBRA coverage after enrolling in Medicare, you are able to keep both your Medicare and COBRA coverage. But remember that your COBRA benefits will be only temporary. Medicare, however, is designed to stay with you for life, so you will need to stay enrolled in Medicare Part B.

Remember, Medicare can go a long way toward helping you maintain your good health—if you have the experience and knowledge to take advantage of it. If you have questions about senior healthcare including Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B), Medicare supplement plans, or Medicare Advantage, contact MedicareMall now and let us save you money and lead you with confidence through the Medicare maze!

MedicareMall Learning Center Index
Back to top