I am considering retirement at 63 & 1/2 years of age. I understand that I would be covered under COBRA until at age 65 when Medicare kicks in. My question has to do with my wife, who would be 61 at the time I retire. Since COBRA seems to have a 36 month limit, would she be covered until she becomes 65 and eligible for Medicare? Would the trigger for a spouse apply when I become eligible for Medicare to extend the time of her coverage, or would we have to find a private plan for that extra year?
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires that employees may elect COBRA health insurance coverage from the date of the qualifying event for a limited period of 18 or 36 months.
The length of time depends on the type of qualifying event that made you eligible for COBRA continuation coverage. The group health plan, may provide longer periods of coverage beyond the maximum period required by law.
When the qualifying event is the covered employee’s termination of employment or reduction in hours of employment, qualified beneficiaries are entitled to 18 months of continuation coverage.
When the qualifying event is the end of employment or reduction of the employee’s hours, and the employee became entitled to Medicare less than 18 months before the qualifying event, COBRA coverage for the employee’s spouse and dependents can last until 36 months after the date the employee becomes entitled to Medicare.
For other qualifying events, qualified beneficiaries must be provided 36 months of continuation coverage.