Q. I am a 9 year metastatic cancer patient who does not have 40 consecutive work quarters to qualify/apply for SSD. My husband is 8 yrs older (age 68) and still working to provide me with reasonable medical insurance. His job is in jeopardy. If forced to retire how soon could I get medical benefits? I need to know how many years I would be paying for COBRA and HIPPA (afterwards). I also realize that after 2014 “pre-existing condition” may change for someone like me who can’t get medical insurance on my own.
To be eligible for Medicare you must be age 65 or older, or have been a Social Security disability beneficiary for 24 months. Most people 65 or older are eligible for Medicare based on their own–or their spouse’s– employment. Based on the information you provided, you do not have enough Social Security credits on your own work record to qualify for Medicare (40 credits – 10 years of work in a job covered by Social Security). You will only qualify for Medicare coverage on your husband’s record when you are 65. Medicare coverage cannot be denied because of a pre-existing condition.
Since your husband is over age 65, he may already have Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Part B (Medical Insurance). Part A is provided at no additional cost. Anyone who is eligible for free Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) can enroll in Medicare medical insurance (Part B) by paying a monthly premium. If your husband loses his job (and medical coverage) he should contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting his local office within 8 months to determine if he needs to file for any Part of Medicare, regardless of whether he has COBRA coverage.
COBRA coverage is available in most cases for only 18 months, but your husband should check with his insurance carrier to determine how COBRA works, who is covered, its costs, etc. To get personalized help in making coverage decisions you can call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or the Medicare website for the telephone number or additional information.