What is COBRA?
COBRA is a federal law that requires most employers with group health plans to offer employees and their dependents the option to continue their health coverage for a certain period of time after experiencing a qualifying event such as job loss, reduction in hours or divorce. COBRA coverage is usually more expensive than employer-sponsored coverage, but it can be a lifesaver for those who need it.
How to Apply for COBRA
To apply for COBRA, you need to first notify your employer or your former employer’s benefits administrator of your qualifying event. You have 60 days from the date of your qualifying event to notify your employer or the benefits administrator. Once you have notified them, they will provide you with the necessary forms to apply for COBRA.
As mentioned earlier, qualifying events for COBRA include job loss, reduction in work hours, divorce, legal separation, and death of the covered employee. If you experience any of these events, you may be eligible for COBRA coverage.
Forms to Fill Out
Once you receive the COBRA forms from your employer or benefits administrator, you will need to fill them out and return them within 60 days. The forms will ask for your personal information, the names of your dependents, and the type of coverage you want to continue.
When Coverage Begins
If you are approved for COBRA, your coverage will begin on the day after your employer-sponsored coverage ends. You will need to pay your premiums on time to avoid a lapse in coverage.
How Long Does COBRA Last?
The length of COBRA coverage depends on the qualifying event. For job loss or reduction in work hours, COBRA coverage can last up to 18 months. For divorce or legal separation, coverage can last up to 36 months. In some cases, coverage can be extended up to 36 months due to disability or a second qualifying event.
How much does COBRA cost?
The cost of COBRA coverage is usually more expensive than employer-sponsored coverage. You will be responsible for paying the full cost of the premium, plus a 2% administrative fee.
What happens if I miss a premium payment?
If you miss a premium payment, your COBRA coverage will be terminated. You will not be able to reinstate coverage, even if you pay the missed premiums. It is important to pay your premiums on time to avoid a lapse in coverage.
Can I enroll in a new health plan while on COBRA?
Yes, you can enroll in a new health plan while on COBRA. However, you will need to wait until the next open enrollment period to do so.
What happens when my COBRA coverage ends?
When your COBRA coverage ends, you will need to find a new health plan. You may be eligible for a special enrollment period if you experience another qualifying event, such as a job loss or divorce.
In conclusion, if you have experienced a qualifying event such as job loss or reduction in work hours, you may be eligible for COBRA coverage. To apply for COBRA, you need to notify your employer or benefits administrator, fill out the necessary forms, and pay your premiums on time. If you have any questions about COBRA, be sure to contact your employer or benefits administrator.