SWITCHING FROM COBRA INSURANCE TO MEDICARE
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If you have COBRA continuation coverage and then become eligible for Medicare, you should be aware of some important considerations.
First, generally your COBRA coverage will end on the date you become eligible for Medicare. Because you lose COBRA insurance coverage, you should immediately enroll in Medicare Part B to insure you maintain medical coverage. In addition, enrolling in Part B immediately avoids a late enrollment penalty. The end of COBRA coverage does not give you the right to a special enrollment period.
When you enroll in Medicare Part B you also become eligible to enroll in a Medigap policy. Medigap is supplemental insurance that can help pay out-of-pocket expenses like coinsurance and deductibles that are not generally covered by Original Medicare. You have six months from the date of your Part B enrollment to choose Medigap coverage.
Once you are ready to choose a Medigap policy, RedQuote can help you find the right policy to fit your needs. You will pay a monthly premium for a Medigap policy, so be sure to let RedQuote help you compare the benefits and costs of your COBRA coverage versus any Medigap policy you consider before you enroll. If you’d like RedQuote to help you find the right plan, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Even though your COBRA ends, you may be able to keep part of your COBRA coverage for services that Medicare does not cover, like dental or vision care. If the prescription drug coverage you have under COBRA is creditable by Medicare, meaning it is as good as or better than the prescription drug coverage offered by Medicare itself, then you may be allowed to continue using the COBRA coverage for prescription drugs. Once your COBRA coverage ends, you will have 63 days to enroll in Medicare Part D.
Most people will not want to keep COBRA coverage once they enroll in Medicare. The cost is high compared to the benefits received. However, you may want to keep COBRA for things like dental care or vision coverage.
Keep in mind that each of your beneficiaries, like your spouse or your dependents, on your COBRA plan have the right individually to elect their own COBRA coverage. Even though you switch your coverage to Medicare, they may keep COBRA until the end of their maximum period of 36 months.
Published September 11, 2018.