COBRA is the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986. The law requires employers to provide continuation of group health coverage that otherwise might be terminated due to a qualifying event for an employee, spouse or dependent.
The qualifying events for employees are:
Voluntary or involuntary termination of employment for reasons other than gross misconduct
Reduction in the number of hours of employment
The qualifying events for spouses are:
Voluntary or involuntary termination of the covered employee's employment for any reason other than gross misconduct
Reduction in the hours worked by the covered employee
Covered employee's becoming entitled to Medicare
Divorce or legal separation of the covered employee
Death of the covered employee
The qualifying events for dependent children are the same as for the spouse with one addition:
Loss of dependent child status under the plan rules
A COBRA notification packet is mailed to an employee within 14 days of the date that the Benefits Office is notified of a qualifying event. The law requires that this packet be sent by mail to the last known address of the employee. This packet will include an official notice, enrollment form, current premiums and life insurance conversion options.
An eligible individual has 60 days from the date of the notice to elect COBRA coverage, which is effective retroactive to the last day of coverage. The individual then has an additional 45 days from the date of COBRA election to make the first premium payment, made payable to the state Employee Insurance Program.
More information about COBRA coverage can be found on the Department of Labor website.