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If you’re on COBRA through your previous employer and are eligible for Medicare, you probably have questions about the future of your coverage. We’re here to explain how COBRA works with Medicare and answer the most frequently asked questions about this topic.
Can You Be on Medicare and COBRA at the Same Time
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) helps employees extend benefits past employment. Qualifying events for COBRA include termination of employment or reduction in working hours. It’s possible to have COBRA and Medicare coverage at the same time. However, they don’t coordinate the same way as employer coverage and Medicare. When you have COBRA, Medicare usually pays first, and COBRA pays second. However, it’s possible that your group insurance has special rules that will determine the primary payer. Refer to your plan document for details.
It’s important to note that your COBRA coverage could be terminated before the maximum period if you become entitled to Medicare after electing to continue coverage.
Is COBRA Considered Creditable Coverage for Medicare
To avoid penalties, you must have creditable coverage. This means coverage that’s at least equivalent to Medicare. COBRA is NOT creditable coverage. If you’re Medicare-eligible and have COBRA, you should enroll in Part B. COBRA extends group benefits for a set period of time – up to 18 months. It’s rare for COBRA to be the best option for a Medicare-eligible person. You can usually get better coverage for less money than COBRA.
Do I Need Part B if I Have COBRA
Your Initial Enrollment Period will begin three months before your 65th birthday. If you don’t join during the seven-month window, you’ll incur penalties.
Can You Get COBRA if You Retire Early
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