COBRA and Part B for under 65

Jan 2, 2019

  1. secondcreek
    Offline

    secondcreek Super Genius

    Posts:
    129
    Likes Received:
    0
    I got laid off and lost my group plan covering me and my wife. She is 56 and on SS disability. We have not had Part B for her since we had the group coverage.

    Rather than going back to work for a company I am making a commitment to being an independent FE agent. Initially, thought we would get me an Obamacare plan and her a MAPD plan. But COBRA for the two of us is actually several hundred dollars a month less than me doing an individual plan, starting Plan B for her and the MAPD.

    At first I thought COBRA would be the best choice for the next 18 months and then set up the individual coverage for each of us. But from reading thru the Medicare & You booklet it seems like there might be some problems getting her covered immediately after the COBRA runs out.

    Is it more prudent to start her on Part B and a MAPD or Med sup now? Are we setting ourselves up for problems trying to get her covered immediately after COBRA if we go the COBRA route?
     
  2. somarco
    Offline

    somarco That Medicare Expert Guy

    Posts:
    28,798
    Likes Received:
    2,277
    State:
    Georgia
    somarco, Jan 2, 2019
    #2
  3. LostDollar
    Offline

    LostDollar Guru

    Posts:
    2,511
    Likes Received:
    417
    State:
    Kansas
    (Please note, I am not an insurance agent.)

    Please also note Somarco's comment above. This is a major "trap" that people fall into.

    Having said that, I think I do see a possibility that might allow you to defer the Part B enrollment for your wife for a little bit, but it would be something that has elements you should discuss with both your HR/benefits coordinator and a local insurance professional.

    (Also I believe that an under 65 person on Medicare gets a second chance, second start for Medicare options when they turn 65.)

    I am not going to have time to make that post for you until Fri evening or Saturday.

    As a start, there are two things, one to find out and one to think about.

    First, when you put your wife on part B, you will also be concerned with a PDP (prescription drug plan). When considering using Cobra coverage before Medicare, you should find out if your Cobra plan is creditable coverage for Medicare PDP (Part D) enrollment.

    (You should also find out whether your Cobra plan will even allow a person already enrolled in Medicare Part A to enroll in the health portion of the plan. I am over 65, but my wife's company benefits people told me that since I was eligible for Medicare and enrolled in Part A already, I could not enroll in that company's Cobra plan.)

    The thing(s) to think about is (are) that if your Cobra plan is like what my wife and I had, you do not both have to take it. I had to go to medicare, but my wife went from group health plan to ACA to cobra and back to ACA. So I think that regardless of your Cobra decision for your wife, you could do Cobra for yourself and defer your ACA plan enrollment.

    The other thing to consider is the components of Cobra, compared to the active employee group health. Again, in the personal experience we had, The group health plan had "Health" coverage which included the doctor stuff, the hospital stuff, drugs, and dental coverage and then a separate option for vision coverage.

    When we went to Cobra, we had three Cobra options-- The "health" portion - doctor, hospital and drugs; but the dental now became a separate option with a separate cost to accept or decline; and then the vision was a third option.

    So initially, my wife went on ACA health insurance and I went on Medicare Hospital and Health insurance and we both did family Cobra coverage for the dental and vision options. In my state at least, our Cobra dental and vision cost options were much less expensive than the individual plan choices available to us.

    This may not be something you will need, but this is a Cobra document a forum agent referred me to when I was trying to solve an issue when we were on Cobra:

    https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/fi...yees-guide-to-health-benefits-under-cobra.pdf

    I will try to get my other comments thought out and posted over the weekend.

    LD
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
  4. LostDollar
    Offline

    LostDollar Guru

    Posts:
    2,511
    Likes Received:
    417
    State:
    Kansas
    I was just reminded of one other very important thing.

    In the over 65 world, Cobra coverage is secondary to Medicare. So that means, if you are allowed to have the Cobra plan at all, it will only pay what Medicare would not have paid, EVEN IF YOU DO NOT ACTUALLY HAVE PART B IN FORCE. So Medicare eligible beneficiaries who have a Cobra plan, but no Part B, actually have almost no Medical insurance coverage at all. I assume that applies to under 65 folks on Medicare too. Because of that, I am not going to work out the post I was going to make on the weekend because Cobra (health insurance) without Part B will be almost useless to your wife.

    The things I said before about Cobra dental and vision for both of you, and Cobra for you, still stand.
     
  5. Stephen
    Offline

    Stephen Guru

    Posts:
    1,281
    Likes Received:
    66
    State:
    Arkansas

    Yes you could run Cobra for 8 months during your grace period , but I always recommend the easiest , cleanest route: Go ahead and enroll into Part B sooner rather than later. The more moving parts , the more things that can break.
     
    Stephen, Jan 3, 2019
    #5
  6. LostDollar
    Offline

    LostDollar Guru

    Posts:
    2,511
    Likes Received:
    417
    State:
    Kansas
    If the termination and loss of group coverage happened effective for a 2019 date, the wife could probably have Cobra for close to the full 18 month term without a Part B penalty, but having Cobra instead of Part B would not be prudent for any time period because of the secondary coverage issues.
     
  7. secondcreek
    Offline

    secondcreek Super Genius

    Posts:
    129
    Likes Received:
    0
    We decided to go ahead and enroll her in Part B and a Plan F since G is not available to her.

    In verifying her doctors accept Medicare we found one specialist who does not. I was a bit surprised by that.

    We concur that the more moving parts there are the more things can break especially after calling Medicare twice and the first person was so disinterested/unhelpful and the second person was just the opposite and couldn't have been anymore pleasant and helpful.

    Seems like you leave a lot to the luck of the draw on who answers the phone on the other end and you are suppose to trust they are providing the best and most accurate information.
     
  8. Stephen
    Offline

    Stephen Guru

    Posts:
    1,281
    Likes Received:
    66
    State:
    Arkansas
    You made the right call , did you enroll her into a Part D plan ?
     
    Stephen, Jan 4, 2019
    #8
  9. secondcreek
    Offline

    secondcreek Super Genius

    Posts:
    129
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, we selected a Part D plan for her. Forgot to mention that. Good catch.
     
  10. LostDollar
    Offline

    LostDollar Guru

    Posts:
    2,511
    Likes Received:
    417
    State:
    Kansas
    In regard to calling, Medicare (but not Social Security) has a 24 hour line. The time I needed some help I called at 8 or 9 at night, got right through, and had a knowledgeable person.

    If you have not already done so, I would also recommend setting up a mymedicare account.
     
Loading...