February 2, 2008

What you need to know about COBRA

COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986) 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, the most common being voluntary or involuntary termination of employment for reasons other than gross misconduct.

Be careful. Not everyone is eligible for COBRA -

· You were not previously enrolled in your employers health insurance plan.
· You fail to complete all necessary paperwork in a timely manner. Plan participants and beneficiaries generally must be sent an election notice not later than 14 days after the plan administrator receives notice that a qualifying event has occurred. The individual then has 60 days to decide whether to elect COBRA continuation coverage.
· The employer goes out of business or ceases to maintain any group health plan.
· If you work with an employer with fewer than 20 employees. The law generally covers health plans maintained by private-sector employers with 20 or more employees, employee organizations, or state or local governments.

COBRA is a great option for individuals, or family members with serious pre-existing medical conditions, however coverage is very expensive and only lasts for up to 36 months** Explore all options before electing COBRA coverage including looking at Individual Health Insurance policies. You can notify your employer of COBRA participation (within 14 days of a qualifying event) and apply for Individual Health Insurance coverage. Most insurance companies will underwrite your case in 7 – 30 days, which allows plenty of time to elect or reject COBRA participation. It’s always a good idea to explore all available options.

Working with an Insurance Specialists will provide you guidance through these troubling times. For more information contact QuoteBroker

** Visit the US Department of Labor for more details at www.dol.gov