On Tuesday, Representatives Bob Dold (R-IL-10) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5) introduced H.R. 6184, legislation that would allow seniors enrolled in COBRA coverage to transition to Medicare Part B without a penalty. This legislation would effectively treat COBRA as creditable coverage, the same as seniors who remain on similar employer-sponsored coverage and then enroll in Medicare. This one-time Medicare special enrollment period would only apply for this scenario.
NAHU has long sought legislation to address this disparity for seniors enrolling in Medicare coverage. Under existing rules, seniors who are enrolled in COBRA coverage, but are eligible for Medicare face financial penalties for not enrolling within the mandated timeframe. However, seniors who are enrolled in similar employer-sponsored plans are not penalized as their coverage is considered creditable for Medicare. We believe that seniors should be able to remain on their COBRA coverage without penalty the same as seniors who remain on similar employer-sponsored coverage.
One of the main benefits of COBRA is that it gives the individual the option to keep the exact same coverage they already had in place for an extended period. This makes it an attractive option for a person who has already met the plan’s deductible or out-of-pocket expense limit for the plan year, or if the individual or the family member needs coverage of a specific prescription or treatment or is in the midst of some type of extensive treatment or therapy. Electing COBRA can assure complete continuity of care, whereas switching to a Medicare option could disrupt some medical services. There may also be a financial benefit to continue COBRA coverage when there are other family members on the plan. Meanwhile, switching from a COBRA plan to Medicare could be disruptive for the beneficiary's care and may come with financial consequences for terminating their COBRA coverage early to meet the Medicare enrollment windows.
Yesterday, NAHU sent an all-member Operation Shout encouraging everyone to contact their member of Congress to support this bill. If you have not yet taken action, please do so today:
- Contact your Representative. Send an Operation Shout today asking your member of Congress to support H.R. 6184 to treat COBRA as creditable coverage for Medicare. Take action here.
- Share Your Story. As a licensed insurance specialist who works closely with seniors to help them understand and enroll in Medicare and private market coverage, we are seeking your stories on how the COBRA coverage requirements has or is currently affecting your clients. We need to hear from you about your clients who have had difficulty with COBRA not counting as creditable coverage. You can share your story here.