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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

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.

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.

Can I keep COBRA insurance even if my new job offers health insurance?

Sometimes people may find a new job but still would like to stay on their previous plan with their former employer under COBRA because they prefer that plan. This is completely possible under COBRA insurance laws as long as you do not sign up for the new insurance. However, when your COBRA insurance benefits run out, you will likely want to sign up for your new employers health insurance plan or find a private plan.

Does COBRA insurance cover dental insurance as well?

If your previous health insurance plan with your previous employer including dental insurance then in most cases you will be able to continue to receive dental insurance with COBRA. When you receive your COBRA insurance election form, you will have to list what type of insurance you wish to continue with COBRA and who you want to be covered. If you wish to continue to have your dental insurance, make sure to mark this on the form. You will have to then pay the dental insurance premium along with the health insurance premium.

Where do I send my monthly COBRA insurance premiums?

Since COBRA insurance is the law that allows you to maintain your health insurance not the actual insurance, you will send the monthly premiums to your group health insurance company. This is the same one that you had when you were employed. Normally the address is located on your COBRA election form and if you can no find that, you can call your former employer or the health insurance provider.

I just qualified for Medicare, can my family still receive COBRA insurance?

Yes - if you were the one who was providing the COBRA insurance policy (i.e. COBRA kicked in because you no longer were covered due to job loss/quitting and elected to continue to keep your group health insurance with COBRA). Under the COBRA insurance laws, this is known as a secondary qualifying event which will allow your family to be covered for an additional 7 months.

Is there a grace period before they cancel COBRA insurance if I can't pay?

With most health insurance plans, there is a 30 day grace period, within which you need to pay your COBRA health insurance premium. If you fail to pay the premium within this window it is likely that your COBRA insurance will be cancelled and you will not be able to sign back up.

Does COBRA insurance qualify as creditable coverage?

Yes - electing to continue your health insurance coverage with COBRA insurance, will qualify as creditable coverage (under the HIPAA) law. Creditable coverage helps ensure that you are not excluded from a health insurance policy in the future due to a preexisting condition.

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.

Where do I get the COBRA insurance application/enrollment form?

The application for COBRA insurance, also know as the enrollment of election form, should be provided by your employer within 45 days of your last day of work. You can not use a generic form found online to elect COBRA medical insurance so you must reach out to your employer or health insurance company for the form. If 45 days have passed and you are sure you qualify for COBRA insurance, reach out to the Department of Labor at 866-444-3272.

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