If you are insured by a group health plan (medical, dental or vision) through your work place and must leave your job or have your working hours reduced, you and your family may qualify for extended coverage under COBRA. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. This is a Federal Laws that requires certain group health plans to allow participating employees and their dependents to extend their health coverage. While you receive extended coverage under COBRA you will be fully responsible for all payments to the group health insurance plan to continue your participation. The exception to this is an employee who enrolls in MEDICARE. In this case, the employer is not required to offer COBRA coverage, but the employer can choose to offer COBRA coverage.
Qualifying for Extended Coverage
As an employee covered under a group health plan, you have the right to continue your coverage under COBRA. An employer with 20 or more employees must offer continuation of the group health plan for approximately 18 or 29 months to an employee whose employment is terminated. If you leave your job voluntarily, or involuntarily (for reasons other than misconduct), or working hours are reduced beyond the minimum amount to qualify for health benefits and certain eligibility standards are met, you may be covered under COBRA. If you are considered disabled under Social Security guidelines at the time you leave your job, you can choose to continue your health coverage for up to 36 months. By law you have 60 days from the date you leave your job to decide whether to continue participating with your health plan under COBRA.
The employee would be responsible for payment of premiums at the same cost (plus 2%) that the employer was paying. A dependent of the employee may be eligible for 36 months of coverage.
To decide whether you might be eligible for COBRA coverage, contact your employer’s employee benefits office. In addition, you can contact the following:
U.S. Department of Labor: 202-219-8776
(Contact for non public employment)
Public Health Service: 301-443-1886
(Contact for state and local government employees)
Internal Revenue Service: 202-622-4695
(It takes approximately 3 to 5 working days to have a response to your request for information.)