Common Questions Regarding COBRA
Frequently Asked Questions
Need coverage now? When your employment status changes, there are many things weighing on your mind, but your health coverage doesn’t have to be one of them. COBRA continuation coverage allows you to keep the same health coverage you had as an actively covered employee when you experienced the qualifying event for an extended period of time to ensure you and/or your family are not left uninsured. Not sure how COBRA continuation coverage works? Answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding COBRA can be found right here!
COBRA Continuation Coverage Advantages:
- Guarantees you and your family the right to stay covered
- Enables you to keep the same coverage you had with your former employer
- Protects against a gap in health coverage, so pre-existing conditions remain covered
Am I eligible for COBRA?
To be eligible for COBRA, you must have been enrolled in your employer’s health plan while you were employed. Once you experience a qualifying event, you may be eligible for COBRA coverage. View Understanding COBRA for more information on what COBRA is and to determine if you have experienced a qualifying event.
Who is considered a qualified beneficiary?
A qualified beneficiary is any individual eligible for COBRA continuation coverage. A qualified beneficiary can be either a covered employee, the spouse of a covered employee, or a dependent child of the covered employee.
- Employee – if the individual is covered under a group health plan provided by their employer at the time of a qualifying event.
- Spouse – if he or she is married to a covered employee at the time of the qualifying event or becomes divorced or legally separated from a covered employee.
- Dependent – if he or she is a covered dependent of a covered employee at the time of a qualifying event or if the covered dependent loses his or her dependent child status.
How do I elect COBRA?
You will be mailed a COBRA Continuation Coverage Election Form upon termination that you will need to complete, sign, and return to:
PO Box 657
Columbia, MO 65205
When is my election deadline?
Once you experience a qualifying event, you will receive an election notice within 14 days. This notice will be delivered by USPS first class mail. You will have 60 days to determine if you would like to elect COBRA.
Am I able to participate in open enrollment while on COBRA?
Yes, like active employees, COBRA participants are allowed to make changes to their insurance plans during open enrollment. Depending on the changes made to your plan, you may have the option to change carriers and/or change your coverage level.
How long may I and/or my dependents continue coverage under COBRA?
If elected, your COBRA coverage typically lasts 18 months for you, your spouse, and your dependents. You may accept or waive coverage for any variation of plans and/or dependents on your election form.
Can I add dependents to my coverage while I’m on COBRA?
According to COBRA regulations, active COBRA participants must be given the same rights available to similarly situated active employees with respect to adding new family members as a result of birth, adoption, or marriage. Please refer to your health plan guide for information on who qualifies as an eligible dependent.
A child born to or adopted by a covered individual during the COBRA coverage period will have the same rights as other qualified beneficiaries when added to coverage within 30 days of the birth or adoption.
Can I drop dependents from my plan while I’m on COBRA?
Yes, you can drop dependents from any of your plans at any time while on COBRA continuation coverage.
When are my premium payments due?
Your premium payments are due the first day of the month for that month. However, there is a 30 grace period upon receipt of payment.
Where do I send my premium payments?
Payments should be made in the form of a check or money order and sent to:
PO Box 657
Columbia, MO 65205
When does my COBRA coverage terminate?
Your COBRA coverage end date will be the last day of the month on the 18th month of your coverage. However, you may voluntarily terminate your COBRA coverage at any time.
Your COBRA administrator and/or former employer do have the ability to terminate your coverage if any of the following takes place:
- Your premium payment is not paid in a timely manner
- You become Medicare entitled after electing COBRA coverage
- Your former employer ceases to provide any group health plan coverage to their employees
What is the COBRA General Rights Notice?
The COBRA General Rights Notice informs the plan participants (the covered employee and covered spouse, if applicable) of their rights and responsibilities under COBRA. The notice must be mailed by the employer or third party administrator (ASI COBRA in this case) to the covered employee and/or spouse within 90 days of the date the individual first became covered by a group health plan.
What is the COBRA Specific Rights Notice?
The COBRA Specific Rights Notice informs the plan participant they have experienced an event that qualifies them for COBRA coverage.
Accompanying this notice will be two more forms:
- The COBRA Continuation Election Form which allows the plan participant to accept or waive any plan(s) they were enrolled in as an active member upon termination
- The HIPAA Certificate of Group Health Plan Coverage which provides evidence of your prior health coverage
How will Medicare eligibility or entitlement affect my COBRA coverage?
If you are enrolled in COBRA coverage and then become Medicare entitled (eligible and enrolled), the plan may be terminated. However, if you are first entitled to Medicare and then become eligible for COBRA coverage, your coverage will not be affected.