Under the COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) federal law Kansas residents can continue, subject to duration limits, health coverage from a prior employer. The Federal COBRA Act allows retiring employees, or those who lose coverage due to quitting a job or reduced work hours, to continue group coverage for a limited period of time. This also applies to their dependents who lose coverage because of divorce or legal separation; death of the covered employee; the covered employee qualifying for Medicare; or a loss of dependent status under the health plan’s provisions.
COBRA Applies Only To Employers With 20 Or More Employees
If you qualify for COBRA benefits, your health-plan administrator must give you a notice stating your right to choose to continue benefits provided by the plan. You then have 60 days to accept coverage or lose all rights to the benefits. Once you select COBRA coverage, you may have to pay 100 percent of the total insurance cost, plus a two percent processing fee.
Kansas Has Laws Regarding Continuation Coverage
The state has a mini-COBRA law that works alongside the Federal COBRA Act. The Kansas Continuing Insurance Coverage law extends to workers who’d employer has 19 or fewer employees.
What is COBRA Insurance?
Basically, COBRA health insurance coverage guarantees employees the right to keep their group health care coverage for up to 18 months when they would otherwise lose it after leaving their job. COBRA generally covers employees who resign or are terminated for any reason other than “gross misconduct.”
However, there is one big difference. While employees are guaranteed the right to the same health care coverage they previously had, they are required to pay for all of it out of their own pocket. Their former employer is not required to subsidize the payments. Employers often cover a substantial portion of health insurance premiums, so COBRA coverage can be expensive.
COBRA Coverage can also be made available to an employee’s family members, sometimes for up to 36 months. COBRA is not available for individual health care plans that are purchased outside of a group plan through an employer or an association. If you lose individual health care coverage, there are no COBRA laws that require an extension.
COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, and is a federal law which helps employees maintain health care coverage when they would otherwise lose it from a “qualifying life event,” including resigning from a job or filing for unemployment.
How is COBRA Coverage Provided?
You must contact your human resources department and inform them when you have a qualifying life event, generally within 30 or 60 days of the event, depending on the type of event. Once your HR department has been made aware of the life event, they are required to offer qualified beneficiaries COBRA coverage. Each qualified beneficiary has the independent right to elect or decline coverage. From there, payments will be arranged through your company or their group health care provider.
When does COBRA Coverage end?
COBRA Coverage can extend up to 18 months for the employee, and up to 36 months under certain conditions for a spouse or dependents. There are certain conditions that will cause COBRA coverage to end, including:
- Reaching the last day of COBRA coverage (after 18-36 months)
- The employer ceases to offer a group health care plan
- The employer goes out of business
- The beneficiary obtains coverage elsewhere
- The beneficiary doesn’t pay the premiums
- The beneficiary is entitled to receive Medicare benefits
Should you elect for COBRA Coverage?
This is a very personal decision. While COBRA can be very expensive (sometimes prohibitively expensive), it will allow you to keep the same group health care coverage as you had while you were with your employer. COBRA also extends to spouses and dependents in events such as a divorce or the death of an employed spouse. This may be their only way to maintain coverage.
What are your options?
- Contact your previous employer and ask him/her to give you your COBRA papers so that you may see how much it is to continue your health insurance through the group plan.
- Shop for temporary health insurance: if you do not have preexisting conditions and need temporary coverage for 1-6 months then temporary health insurance is a great solution and you will find that it is extremely affordable.
- If you have preexisting conditions or pregnant you should try to get on another group plan (or pay for COBRA) as quick as you can or contact your local insurance state department to see what they have available for you. Many states have a guaranteed issue health insurance plan for individuals who cannot secure coverage through a private health insurer.