If you have recently left a job where you were covered under a group health plan, then you likely received some paperwork or other notice about COBRA continuation health coverage. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act and some people may have questions about what COBRA can offer them.
What does COBRA require?
COBRA requires that covered employees, spouses, dependent children and former spouses to be offered continuation coverage for group health coverage. This coverage is frequently more expensive than what the former employee paid because the employer was covering part of the cost. With COBRA, the total cost comes to the employee.
Who can receive COBRA continuation coverage?
There are three factors that must be met in order to be entitled to COBRA continuation coverage. These are:
- COBRA must cover the group health plan.
- A qualifying event must have occurred.
- The employee must be a beneficiary qualified for that event to occur.
What are qualifying events?
A qualifying event means that the employee lost his or her group health plan coverage. Some examples include:
- The person's employment was terminated; however, the termination must be for something besides gross misconduct.
- The employee's hours were reduced.
For the dependent children and spouse, a qualifying event might be:
- The spouse and the employee divorce or legally separate.
- The employee is eligible for Medicare.
- The employee dies.
How long does the employee have to decide to use COBRA coverage?
For an employee who is eligible for COBRA continuation coverage, he or she must be given 60 days to decide whether he or she wants the coverage.
There are many things to consider with COBRA continuation coverage; however, it is in place to help employees who have lost their jobs to continue to have health care coverage until they find another job with health care coverage.
If you feel you should be eligible for COBRA coverage, but it is not offered, you may want to see what your legal options are.