Health Insurance Forum
Jun. 24, 2007
I currently have group health insurance through my job. When I become eligible for Medicare in five years, I will still have minor dependents. What are their insurance options?
If you leave a group health insurance plan to enroll in Medicare, your "qualified beneficiaries" are entitled to 36 months of continued health insurance under COBRA. A qualified beneficiary is defined as "any individual who, on the day before a qualifying event [enrollment in Medicare in this case], is covered under a group health plan by virtue of being on that day either a covered employee, the spouse of a covered employee, or a dependent child of a covered employee."
Understand, however, that COBRA rules define Medicare "entitlement" as enrollment in Medicare Part A and/or B, not merely "eligibility." Typically, Medicare entitlement is a COBRA-qualifying event in conjunction with an earlier 18-month COBRA-qualifying event, such as job termination. And when a 36-month event occurs during an 18-month COBRA continuation period, the affected qualified beneficiaries may
extend coverage for up to a total of 36 months from the original qualifying event date.
This means if you retire from your job, you and your minor dependents will be eligible for 18 months of continued health insurance under COBRA. When you enroll in Medicare, you and your children are eligible to continue that coverage for a total of 36 months from the day you retire, not the day you turn 65 (the age at which you become Medicare "eligible") and not the day you enroll in Medicare. Read Know your COBRA rights .
Alternatively, you children may also be eligible for group health insurance through the Children's Health Insurance Program, a federally funded program that aims to provide for children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private health insurance. See Children's Health Insurance Program .
Disclaimer: We are journalists, not financial planners or insurance brokers. Nothing we say should be interpreted as a recommendation to buy or sell any insurance product, or to provide other financial or legal advice .