Coverage through COBRA isn't automatic, and there are some instances when you have to take the initiative. But there are some guidelines that both employers and their group health plan providers must follow in order to notify employees about their rights regarding COBRA.
Employers are required by law to notify their workers about their obligation to offer COBRA through a general notice upon entering a group health care plan. In addition, they must furnish pertinent COBRA information in the summary plan description of their health insurance policy. Employers are also required to notify their insurance carrier within 30 days of certain COBRA qualifying events. It's then the responsibility of the insurance provider to notify you of your rights to choose COBRA. The insurance company has 14 days from the time they received notice from the employer to deliver this information either in person or by first class mail. It's the employer's responsibility to do this though, when employee status is voluntarily reduced to part time, or they voluntarily leave their job altogether. Workers then have 60 days to decide whether or not they want to enlist. Coverage usually lasts for 18 months from the day of eligibility, but there are a few exceptions. For instance, if you become disabled in the course of those 18 months, the time period can extend to up to 36 months.
As we know, health insurance might be expensive, but it's often precious as well. In a time when companies attract employees not just by the wages they offer, but also by the company's benefits, health care coverage is an extremely influential aspect when deciding which job to choose. Knowing that we have the option to continue these benefits (albeit at our own cost) is a great relief to many in the workforce.
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More Great Links
- California State University: Health Care Reimbursement Account. http://www.calstate.edu/benefits/flexible/hcra.cobra.shtml
- CobraInsurance.Com: What is COBRA Insurance?http://www.cobrainsurance.com/COBRA_Law.htm
- Freelance Job News: Cobra Insurance; Get the Facts. http://r144.com/InsArticle006.htm
- Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act: The Law. http://www.cobrahealth.com/thelaw.htm
- InsureLane.Com: COBRA FAQs. http://www.insurelane.com/insurance-faq/faq37.html
- National Coalition on Health Care: Health Insurance Coverage. http://www.nchc.org/facts/coverage.shtml
- Understand COBRA: Full Text of Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act. http://www.understandcobra.com/full-text-of-consolidated-omnibusbudget-reconciliation-act.html
- U.S. Department of Labor: COBRA Fact Sheet. http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/fscobra.html
- U.S. Department of Labor: Continuing Health Coverage. http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/cobra.htm