Employees who lose their jobs or resign voluntarily, as well as their family members, also lose their health insurance coverage provided by the employer through a group health plan. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives the employee the right to continue the benefits provided to them for a specified amount of time, under qualifying conditions.
Only qualifying beneficiaries can elect for COBRA insurance coverage. These include the employee who was covered by a health insurance plan, the spouse of the employee or a dependent child. The time period for coverage starts from the next day of termination of employment and lasts up to 18 months for the employee and 36 months for an employee’s spouse or dependent child.
The employers, as well as the group health plan, are required to notify the qualifying beneficiaries of their COBRA rights. Failure to do so on the employer’s part may account for monetary fines. If an employee or a family member qualifies for the COBRA coverage, the employer must notify the health insurance plan company within 30-60 days. The qualifying beneficiary then has a 60 days elective period to decide whether to purchase COBRA or not. Should an employee or a family member choose to continue coverage, the expenses are covered by the party themselves.
If you find yourself in a situation where you think you might benefit from the COBRA plan, or you think that your COBRA rights have been violated, you are advised to seek the assistance of a qualified employment attorney. An attorney will review your case and work for your best interests.