Medicare Eligibility and COBRA

Medicare Eligibility and COBRA

Many people get health insurance through their employer (job) or their spouse’s employer. If you do, job changes can put you at risk of losing health insurance coverage.

COBRA lets you choose to keep health insurance you get through your employer if you’re at risk of losing it. This is called continuation coverage. But, COBRA only lets you keep your health insurance from your employer for a short time. You will also need to pay the full cost yourself.

If you have COBRA and are eligible for Medicare, COBRA may only pay a small part of your medical costs. To avoid unexpected medical bills, you may need to enroll in Medicare right away.

COBRA works differently with Medicare Part A and Part B.

  • Medicare Part A: For most people, COBRA coverage ends once you enroll in Medicare Part A.
  • Medicare Part B: You have 8 months to sign up without paying a fee (penalty). It doesn’t matter if you have COBRA or not. If you miss the 8-month window to enroll, you must wait until January 1 through March 31 to sign up. Your coverage will then start on July 1. Because of this, you may have a gap in health insurance coverage. You may also have to pay a penalty.

Questions about COBRA

  • If you have questions about your COBRA options, call your employer.
  • If you have questions about Medicare and COBRA, call the Benefits Coordination & Recovery Center at 1-855-798-2627.
  • If your health insurance coverage was from a private employer (not a government employer), call the Department of Labor at 1-866-444-327.
  • If your health insurance coverage was from state or local government employers, call the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at 1-877-267-2323 extension 61565.
  • If your health insurance coverage was from the federal government, call the Office of Personnel Management at 202-606-1800.