Last night, Representatives Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26) introduced H.R. 5104, 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 advocated for Congress to pass legislation to treat COBRA as creditable coverage for Medicare, the same way that similar employer-sponsored insurance is already treated as creditable, for the following reasons:
- Seniors are remaining in the workforce longer and are continuing to be covered by either employer-sponsored coverage or COBRA.
- While the Medicare eligibility age remains 65, the age of retirement, including eligibility for Social Security, is not necessarily the same. Because of this, seniors may choose to stay on another private plan, including those under COBRA, instead of electing to enroll in Medicare.
- Under current law, seniors who are eligible for Medicare and are on an employer-sponsored plan do not face any financial consequences for doing so. However, individuals who are eligible for Medicare but receive COBRA coverage are subject to penalties.
- Penalties for late enrollment will continue for the duration of the beneficiary's lifetime. Many seniors are unaware of these penalties when electing COBRA coverage for themselves or their spouse.
- COBRA coverage may better meet the individual's needs based on plan design, provider networks, financial considerations or other reasons.
- Forcing seniors to terminate this coverage could have negative consequences on their care
H.R. 5104, the Medicare Enrollment Protection Act, would treat COBRA as creditable coverage for Medicare. Take action today and urge your member of Congress to support this bill.
- Contact Your Representative. Send an Operation Shout today asking your member of Congress to support H.R. 5104 to treat COBRA as creditable coverage for Medicare. You can also call your legislators at the numbers below.
- 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 have or are 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.
Take action today. Tell your member of Congress to support H.R. 5104!
Don't want to send an email?
No problem, Rep. Christopher Smith (R) can be reached at (202) 225-3765.