On September 9, Representatives Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Tim Walberg (R-MI) introduced H.R. 8791, legislation that would create a one-time special enrollment period (SEP) for seniors enrolled in COBRA coverage to enroll in Medicare Part B without a penalty.
This is an issue that NAHU has been working on for quite some time. 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.
One of the main benefits of COBRA is that it gives individuals 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 the midst of some type of extensive treatment or therapy. Electing COBRA can ensure 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.
Switching from a COBRA plan to Medicare can be disruptive for beneficiaries’ care and may come with financial consequences for terminating their COBRA coverage early to meet the Medicare-enrollment windows. H.R. 8791 would effectively treat COBRA as creditable coverage, allowing seniors the freedom to choose the right coverage options for them without facing a lifetime of financial consequences.
Source: National Association of Health Underwriters – NAHU