Practical Insights: Dealing with Medicare Part B and COBRA Coverage


Generally, the Socal Security Act provides that individuals may enroll in Medicare Part B (which covers doctors visits and other outpatient services) when they reach age 65. If they fail to do so during a seven month initial enrollment period surrounding their 65th birthday, they can enroll during an annual "general enrollment" period that occurs each January 1- March 31, with coverage becoming effective the following July1, though they will incur a penalty in the form of permanently higher Part B premiums (10% increase for each year of available coverage that is foregone). However, actively employed individuals who have employer-provided health coverage can postpone signing up for Medicare Part B until after age 65. When they lose the employer-provided coverage or terminate employment, whichever happens first, they are then provided an eight-month "special enrollment period" ("SEP") during which they can sign up for Medicare effective immediately and without penalty.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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