You can sign up for Part B without a penalty any time you have health coverage based on current employment. (COBRA and retiree health coverage don't count as current employer coverage.)
Once your employment (or your employer/union coverage) ends, 3 things happen:
- You may be able to get COBRA coverage, which continues your health insurance through the employer's plan (in most cases for only 18 months) and probably at a higher cost to you.
- You have 8 months to sign up for Part B without a penalty, whether or not you choose COBRA. If you don't enroll in Part B during the 8 months after the employment ends:
- You may have to pay a penalty for as long as you have Part B.
- You won't be able to enroll until January 1–March 31, and you'll have to wait until July 1 of that year before your coverage begins. This may cause a gap in health care coverage.
- If you already have COBRA coverage when you enroll in Medicare, your COBRA will probably end. If you become eligible for COBRA coverage after you're already enrolled in Medicare, you must be allowed to take the COBRA coverage. It will always be secondary to Medicare (unless you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD))
- I have employer or union coverage.
- I have TRICARE.
- I'm an active-duty service member.
- I have Veteran's benefits.
- I have CHAMPVA.
- I Don't have any of these.
Have questions about Medicare? Ask me about your Medicare options by calling 888-357-1999 or by sending a message request below to Medicare Options Info, Inc. A licensed independent insurance agent appointed with multiple carriers will help you make an informed decision. Agent is not connected in any way with the federal or state government or Medicare.