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Pennsylvania COBRA Insurance

In addition to the federal COBRA insurance coverage, the state of Pennsylvania also offers an extended COBRA insurance plan for employees at companies with less than 20 employees. This means that even if you do not meet the requirements for federal COBRA insurance, you may still be eligible for COBRA insurance coverage in Pennsylvania. This law is called Pennsylvania Mini COBRA insurance or Pennsylvania COBRA.

Eligibility: In order to be eligible for Pennsylvania Mini COBRA coverage, you must have been covered by the employer group health insurance plan at the time employment ended or the qualifying event occurred. You also can not qualify for federal COBRA insurance. As with federal COBRA laws, your beneficiaries are also eligible for COBRA insurance in Pennsylvania. You are not eligible for Pennsylvania Mini COBRA insurance if you are eligible for Medicare or if you qualify for another group health insurance plan.

Signing Up: To sign up for Pennsylvania Mini COBRA insurance coverage, your employer or insurance provider must notify you within 30 days that you are eligible for Pennsylvania Mini COBRA insurance. You then have 30 days to sign up. Florida Mini COBRA insurance, unlike federal COBRA insurance, is handled individually by the health insurance provider, therefore each insurer may have slightly different forms and specific sign up requirements. You can always contact the health insurance provider for support in completing these forms.

Length of Coverage: Pennsylvania Mini COBRA insurance covers you for 9 months from the day your group health insurance plan stopped coverage. This applies to former employees, spouses, and dependents.

Cost: Pennsylvania Mini COBRA insurance costs are based on the insurance premium cost under the group insurance plan you participated in as an employee. Depending on your employer, they may have paid the entire premium or part of the premium. Under Pennsylvania Mini COBRA insurance benefits, you will be responsible for paying the 105% of the premium. Although this may seem high, it is still significantly less than you would pay for similar heath insurance coverage if you bought individual health insurance. It is also important to know that when you sign up for Pennsylvania Mini COBRA insurance, you will be responsible for any monthly premiums retroactively since the date of employment loss since the coverage covers that entire period.

Termination: Pennsylvania Mini COBRA insurance can be terminated for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons for termination of Pennsylvania Mini COBRA insurance coverage is failure to pay premiums, termination of the group health insurance plan by the employer.

For help signing up for Pennsylvania MIni COBRA insurance, you may consider contacting the following state agencies.

Pennsylvania Department of Insurance
Office of Consumer and Producer Services
1209 Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-6174
Fax: 717-787-8585
http://www.ins.state.pa.us/

U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration
Philadelphia Regional Office
170 S Independence Mall West, Suite 870 West
Philadelphia, PA 19106-3317
Phone: 215-861-5300
Fax: 215-861-5347
http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I sign up for COBRA insurance if I only need insurance for a month?

As long as your new insurance will kick in within the 60 day window you have to elect to sign up for COBRA insurance, there is no need to sign up for COBRA insurance. The reason for this is that you elect to sign to sign up for COBRA insurance on the 60th day, your health insurance will be retroactive until the last day of your employment. That means that if for any reason you got sick or needed medical attention during the 60 days, you could then just pay the premium and be covered for those expenses. If you don't end up needing medical attention in those 60 days then you didn't waste the money paying for the two months of premiums. Essentially, you would actually never be without coverage, since you can activate it at any time within the 6o days and cover the full term.

Your other option would be to sign up for a short term health insurance plan, which can be anyway from 1 day to 1 year, at a much cheaper rate than COBRA. This would cover you for any major medical costs.

Can I keep the same health insurance plan with COBRA insurance?

That is exactly what COBRA insurance is for. COBRA insurance actually refers to the law that was passed in 1985 and not to a specific type of insurance. The law allows you to keep your current health insurance plan as long as you meet federal requirements which means that yes, you can and will keep the exact same health insurance plan.

Can my COBRA insurance premiums change?

Yes. Since COBRA insurance is just a continuation of your group health insurance plan, any changes to that plan, including an increase or decrease in premium costs, will also affect your premium cost under COBRA insurance. Your bill will reflect any changes in costs for the premium. COBRA insurance premiums cannot be locked in at any point.

How do I add a dependent to my COBRA insurance?

Since COBRA insurance is just a law that enables you to continue to have access to your previous group health insurance, you would take the same steps to add a dependent. First contact your health insurance provider (not COBRA which is just the law that allows this) and find out their policy for adding a dependent.

Where can I find a list of doctors for COBRA insurance?

Since COBRA insurance is actually legislation that allows you to choose to continue receiving your previous group health insurance plan, there will not be a list of doctors that take COBRA insurance, but instead the same doctors that were covered under your previous health insurance plan will still be covered. If you need a list of those doctors, you should contact your health insurance plan administrator.

Why would I apply for state sponsored COBRA health insurance?

The most common reason that someone would apply for a state sponsored COBRA insurance plan is because they do not qualify under the federal COBRA insurance laws. In many states, there are state sponsored programs often called Mini COBRA laws or COBRA continuation laws which extend COBRA benefits to people who work at companies of between 2-19 employees and wouldn't be eligible under the federal law.

How many days do I have to elect COBRA insurance?

Under the current law, you have 60 days to decide if you want to elect COBRA insurance. During that time it is important that you explore all of your options to make sure that is the right plan for you. The exact date that you need to make an enrollment decision will be listed on your COBRA insurance election form.

Am I eligible for COBRA insurance if my company cancels their health insurance policy?

Unfortunately in most cases you will not be eligible for health insurance under COBRA insurance laws if your company stops providing health insurance. The reason is that COBRA insurance laws allow you to continue to receive your health insurance but if there is no health insurance to continue, then you are not able to keep insurance under COBRA. This means you will likely need to start exploring alternative health insurance options.

Is there a COBRA application form I can download?

No. COBRA enrollment forms have to be provided by the employer and group health insurance provider. The election forms, although they contain similar information, contain specific individual information about your plan, the premium, and who is covered so they have to be provided by the employer or group health insurance plan. You should receive this from your employer, as it is their legal obligation to provide the COBRA insurance application, but if your are concerned you should reach out to your employer and request the application.

Can I sign up for COBRA insurance if I quit my job?

Yes! Under COBRA insurance you can sign up for COBRA insurance if you leave your job voluntarily (i.e. quitting) or involuntarily (i.e. being laid off). You will need to complete the COBRA insurance enrollment form which should be provided by your employer.

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