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If I am on COBRA, can I delay Medicare enrollment?

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a law that requires employees to keep their healthcare coverage after they leave their employers’ group health plans under certain conditions, such as losing their jobs. Thinking that you can delay Medicare because of a COBRA continuation plan can result in a costly mistake.  

The only type of coverage that can delay Medicare enrollment is a group health plan sponsored by a company with 20 or more employees and related to the current employment of the individual turning 65 or his or her spouse. COBRA is related to past employment; it does not count as working right now. If you delay enrolling in Medicare, you can face late enrollment penalties for both Part B, medical insurance, and, depending on the type of coverage, Part D, prescription drug coverage.  

For those on COBRA who turn 65, chances are that COBRA coverage will end. Check with the COBRA benefits administrator about continuing coverage for any dependents. For those who go on COBRA after age 65, Medicare will be the primary payer so it will be necessary to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B. 

Last updated: 09-04-2018