Congress passed the landmark Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) health benefit provisions in 1986. The law amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Internal Revenue Code and the Public Health Service Act to provide continuation of group health coverage that otherwise might be terminated.
COBRA provides certain former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates. This coverage, however, is only available when coverage is lost due to certain specific events. Group health coverage for COBRA participants is usually more expensive than health coverage for active employees, since usually the employer pays a part of the premium for active employees while COBRA participants generally pay the entire premium themselves. It is ordinarily less expensive, though, than individual health coverage.
COBRA establishes required periods of coverage for continuation health benefits. A plan, however, may provide longer periods of coverage beyond those required by COBRA. COBRA beneficiaries generally are eligible for group coverage during a maximum of 18 months for qualifying events due to employment termination or reduction of hours of work. Certain qualifying events, or a second qualifying event during the initial period of coverage, may permit a beneficiary to receive a maximum of 36 months of coverage.
Coverage begins on the date that coverage would otherwise have been lost by reason of a qualifying event and will end at the end of the maximum period. It may end earlier if:
Premiums are not paid on a timely basis
The employer ceases to maintain any group health plan
After the COBRA election, coverage is obtained with another employer group health plan that does not contain any exclusion or limitation with respect to any pre-existing condition of such beneficiary. However, if other group health coverage is obtained prior to the COBRA election, COBRA coverage may not be discontinued, even if the other coverage continues after the COBRA election.
After the COBRA election, a beneficiary becomes entitled to Medicare benefits. However, if Medicare is obtained prior to COBRA election, COBRA coverage may not be discontinued, even if the other coverage continues after the COBRA election.
Although COBRA specifies certain periods of time that continued health coverage must be offered to qualified beneficiaries, COBRA does not prohibit plans from offering continuation health coverage that goes beyond the COBRA periods.
All of this information came straight from the United States Department of Labor website. But I must stress that you can NOT be late with your payment. They will cut you off. The good news is that the new Economic Recovery Act that President Obama initiated will subsides the cost of COBRA if you fall into certain categories.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides a premium reduction to certain qualified individuals and expanded eligibility for COBRA.
Individuals who are eligible for COBRA coverage because of their own or a family member’s involuntary termination of employment that occurred from September 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009 and who elect COBRA may be eligible to pay a reduced premium amount that is only 35% of the premium costs for your COBRA coverage for up to 9 months.
Additionally, if you were offered Federal COBRA continuation coverage as a result of an involuntary termination of employment during that time period and you either declined to take COBRA coverage at that time, or you elected COBRA and later discontinued it, you may have another opportunity to elect COBRA coverage and pay a reduced premium.
Hope this helps. COBRA is expensive but well worth it for anyone with CD as the cost of medical procedures and medications can easily exceed the cost of the insurance. Good Luck.
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