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Massachusetts COBRA Insurance

In addition to the federal COBRA insurance coverage, the state of Massachusetts also offers an extended COBRA insurance plan for employees at companies with between 2-19 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 Massachusetts.

Eligibility: In order to be eligible for Massachusetts COBRA insurance, you must have been covered by the employer group health insurance plan employment loss and have a qualifying event that entitles you to COBRA insurance. You also can not qualify for federal COBRA insurance. As with federal COBRA laws, your beneficiaries are also eligible for COBRA insurance in Massachusetts. You are not eligible for Massachusetts COBRA insurance if you are eligible for Medicare or if you qualify for another group health insurance plan.

Signing Up: To sign up for the Massachusetts COBRA insurance coverage, you must apply in writing after employment loss. You also must pay the COBRA premium in advance. Your employer and the group health insurer should provide you with an election notice for COBRA insurance when your employment ends, however you should immediately reach out to your insurer if you do not receive notification.

Length of Coverage: Massachusetts COBRA insurance covers you for 18 months from the day your group health insurance plan stopped coverage. This applies to former employees, spouses, and dependents.

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

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

Massachusetts Division of Insurance
1 South Station, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02110
Phone: 617.521.7777
http://www.mass.gov/doi

U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration
Boston Regional Office
J.F.K. Building, Room 575
Boston, MA 02203
Phone: 617.565.9600
Fax: 617.565.9666
http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/

Frequently Asked Questions

Will COBRA insurance work outside of the United States?

That all depends on the type of health insurance plan that you had with your previous employer. If the insurance company would have covered you if you moved out of the country, then they still will. However, most insurance plans only work in a select area and will not work oversees, therefore meaning COBRA insurance will not work outside of the United States. You can contact your health insurance provider to find out if you will be covered out of the country.

How much do I have to pay to sign up for COBRA insurance?

This is completely dependent on the day that you decide to elect to enroll in COBRA insurance. If you decide to enroll in COBRA insurance right away, you will just be responsible f or the first premium. However, if you wanted until the last day to enroll, you would have to pay 2 months of premiums. This is because COBRA insurance is retroactive back to the date your insurance coverage would have stopped and you need to pay to cover that full period. You can find out exactly what you need to pay by contacting your group health insurance plan.

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.

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.

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.

Can I sign up for COBRA insurance if I am self employed?

Unfortunately you will not be able to sign up for COBRA insurance if you are self employed. Federal COBRA insurance benefits only extend to people who work for companies with over 20 employees and state sponsored COBRA insurance policies may extend to companies with 2-19 employees. Most likely you will need to seek out COBRA insurance alternatives. The only other option you could possibly explore is if you belong to a group health insurance plan provided by an umbrella network of self employed individuals. If you are part of such a network, you may be eligible for COBRA insurance but you will have to reach out to your plan administrator.

Are there good COBRA insurance alternatives if I have a preexisting condition?

Likely, COBRA insurance will be your best option if you have a preexisting condition. However it is always worth it to explore alternative options and explain your condition to find out if there is a cheaper option even though you have a preexisting condition. Either way, it is incredibly important to keep some type of medical insurance.

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.

Are my COBRA insurance premium payments tax deductible?

It all depends on your health insurance plan and your current income and taxes. Unfortunately there is no simple answer here. The easiest way to find out if your health insurance premiums under COBRA is to contact your health insurance administrator or reach out to the IRS or a specialized tax agent.

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