Do I Have to Offer COBRA?
Common HR Questions
Q: Do I have to offer COBRA to someone who is eligible for Medicare?
A: There is a common misconception that because someone is eligible for Medicare when they terminate employment, you don’t have to offer COBRA. In reality, you have to offer COBRA coverage to anyone who was covered under your plan as of the date of the qualifying life event.
So even though an employee is eligible (qualifies but not enrolled in) for Medicare when they experience a qualifying life event, you still have to offer them COBRA. If someone becomes entitled to (actually enrolls in and becomes covered by) Medicare for the first time once they are on COBRA, then you can terminate COBRA upon their enrollment effective date in Medicare. However, if someone was already entitled to Medicare before the qualifying event date (even if it was just Part A), then they are eligible for 18 months of COBRA – you can’t terminate or refuse coverage if they elect.
MEA’s goal is to provide current, detailed and useful information to HOTLINE callers, but our responses do not constitute legal advice about what you should or should not do in a particular situation. You should always consult legal counsel, in the context of a confidential attorney-client relationship, before taking any action that could have legal implications for you or your business. If legal services are needed, MEA members are entitled to a discounted fee arrangement with the Powell Trachtman law firm, which serves as MEA’s general counsel. For more information, contact Michael G. Trachtman at firstname.lastname@example.org.