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Insurance After COBRA

Posted on: March 16th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

insurance after COBRACOBRA insurance only lasts 18 months for most people and when the end of your COBRA insurance is quickly approaching, many people begin to think about insurance after COBRA.  There are many options for insurance after COBRA but it is important to think through all the options carefully to make sure you choose the right plan for you and your family.  We always recommend starting by getting a free health insurance quote so you have a general idea of what options are out there for you and your family. Taking 5-10 minutes to fill out a quote will open your eyes to what is on the market, the price ranges, and what you should be thinking about for insurance after COBRA.

Option 1:  Private Health Insurance

Then most common insurance that people get after COBRA is private health insurance.  This is normally through a major company and there are health insurance plans of all types depending on your health needs and budget.  The most comprehensive plans available are private individual and family plans which generally offer plans that are very similar to what you had on COBRA insurance.  There are HMOs and PPOs available as well as varying levels of co-payments and deductibles depending on your needs.

The second most popular type of private health insurance plan that people get after COBRA is a short term health insurance plan.  These plans normally have high deductibles and are meant to help cover you in the short term.  These plans can last anywhere from 1 day to about 1 year and normally only cover emergencies.  They are built to help keep you covered in between jobs or other health insurance plans.

The other popular insurance after COBRA is catastrophic health insurance plans which only cover emergencies.  These plans tend to be very inexpensive and only cover medical emergencies.  The deductibles are generally very high and they do not include doctor visits or other care in most cases.  They usually are very affordable since the coverage is minimal.

Option 2:  Government Health Insurance

It is always wise to look into government health insurance as an option for insurance after COBRA.  Many times adults and especially children can be covered by government health insurance plans is your income is below a certain level.  These plans can be offered by the federal or state government.  In addition if you are at or near to retirement age, there is government health insurance you can use.

Option 3:  Health Insurance From New Employment

Finally you can look for a new job that includes health insurance.  Many people do not remember to ask about health insurance when looking at a job but it should be an important consideration.  Even if the job isn’t exactly what you are looking for in the long term, taking a job that has health insurance, especially if you or someone in your family has a preexisting condition can be a smart move.  There are many part time jobs that come with health insurance like working at Starbucks, driving a school bus, or serving as in aid in a public school.  Look at all your options.

 

COBRA Insurance Laws

Posted on: March 12th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

COBRA Insurance and RetirementPeople have lots of questions about COBRA Insurance laws and how they impact their choices for health insurance after losing, quitting, or retiring from a job.  There are two types of COBRA Insurance laws that people are interested in.  First, people want to know about the actual federal COBRA insurance law that lays out eligibility and who can sign up for COBRA insurance.  Secondly, people want to learn about COBRA insurance laws regarding what employers must do.  We will cover both subjects in this blog posting.

First, let’s take a look at the COBRA insurance laws for eligibility that were laid out in the 1986 federal COBRA insurance law.  There are three basic categories laid out in the law that determine who is eligible for COBRA insurance – the type of employer sponsored health insurance plan, the event that caused someone to lose coverage, and the people who are eligible for COBRA coverage.

1.  Qualifying Plan: This term refers to the type of group health insurance plan your insurer had.  Under the COBRA insurance laws that plan must cover at least 20 employees, or their part time equivalents, for the employee or their family members to be eligible for COBRA insurance.

2.  Qualifying Event: This refers to how the employer sponsored group health insurance coverage was lost.  Many people think that you are only eligible for COBRA insurance if you are laid off, but in fact you are also eligible under the COBRA insurance laws if you quit your job or retire from your job.  Moreover, there are many events that can make family members eligible for COBRA insurance.  Some examples are divorce from the covered spouse (even if they continue working at the company), death of the covered spouse, and losing dependent child status.  The qualifying event is also an important piece of the law because it outlines the length of time that people are eligible.  The general rule of thumb is that COBRA insurance coverage lasts for 18 months but in some cases like divorce for example, benefits can be extended to 36 months in many cases.

3.  Qualifying Person:  The last piece of the federal COBRA insurance law refers to who is eligible to continue health insurance coverage with COBRA.  Basically what the law states is that anyone who was covered during employment can be covered with COBRA.  This generally includes the covered employee, spouse, and dependent children. For a retiree, this would include the retiree, retiree’s spouse, or retiree’s dependent children.

Now let’s take a look at the basic COBRA insurance laws for employers.

  • You must notify employees and spouses that would be covered through the COBRA program of their right to COBRA insurance coverage at the start of the health insurance plan.
  • You must notify employees and other covered beneficiaries within 14 days of the date that the covered individual(s) qualifies for COBRA insurance. The company is required by law to provide all the necessary forms and documents. Normally this should be through certified mail or in person with a signed form acknowledging they received it.
  • You must keep accurate records that you properly notified the employees of changes during the policy and at the time of COBRA qualification.
  • You must track COBRA election periods and the length of time that an employee has been enrolled in coverage under the law.
  • You must provide invoices to COBRA informing them of the premium payments and any short bill payments. These must be balanced and recorded.
  • You must keep all records of correspondence regarding COBRA coverage.
  • If your plan changes, you must notify COBRA, through the entire time of coverage.
  • You must notify the employee when insurance benefits terminate.

 

Cal-COBRA Insurance

Posted on: December 5th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Cal-COBRA InsuranceCal COBRA Insurance is a state run California COBRA Insurance program mostly meant for people who do not qualify for federal COBRA coverage. Under the Cal COBRA Plan people who work at companies with fewer than 20 employees can qualify for Cal COBRA and continue to keep their health insurance plan from their employer. Here are the answers to some common questions about Cal-COBRA.

1. Who can sign up for Cal-COBRA?
In most situations, employees as well as their spouse and children can sign up for Cal-COBRA and continue their insurance coverage. This normally applies to anyone who was covered under the employer’s plan. However it is good to keep in mind that the following conditions will make people ineligible for Cal-COBRA:

  • Finding coverage with another group health insurance plan
  • Becoming eligible for the federal COBRA insurance plan
  • Qualifying for Medicare or Medi-Cal

2. What “qualifying events” normally qualify someone for Cal COBRA insurance?
The most common qualifyng events that qualify an employee or family member for Cal COBRA are death of the covered employee, when the employee loses or quits their job, divorce or separation from the covered employee, losing status as a dependent child, or when the covered employee becomes eligible for Medicare.

State COBRA Mini Plans

Posted on: December 5th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

State COBRA InsuranceMany people do not know that if they do not qualify for federal COBRA insurance, they may still qualify for a state run COBRA insurance plan, usually known as mini COBRA insurance.  These plans are meant to help people and usually cover people who work at smaller companies with between 2-19 employees.  They also sometimes extend benefits after COBRA insurance has run out.  The following states offer mini COBRA insurance programs:

State Length of COBRA in months
Arkansas 4
California 36
Colorado 18
Connecticut 36
Iowa 9
Kansas 6
Kentucky 18
Louisiana 12
Maine 12
Maryland 18
Massachusetts 36
Florida 29
Georgia 3
Minnesota 36
Mississippi 12
Missouri 9
Nebraska 12
Nevada 36
New Hampshire 36
New Jersey 36
New York 36
North Carolina 18
North Dakota 36
Ohio 6
Oklahoma 6
Oregon 6
Rhode Island 18
South Carolina 6
South Dakota 36
Tennessee 15
Utah 6
Vermont 12
West Virginia 18
Wisconsin 18
Wyoming 12

How Does COBRA Insurance Work?

Posted on: December 2nd, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

COBRA Insurance and RetirementMany people have heard of COBRA insurance but few people actually know how it works.  Essentially COBRA insurance works by allowing someone to choose to keep their employer’s health insurance plan after leaving a job, losing a job, or quitting a job.  It was established to help families and make sure they they didn’t suddenly lose health insurance if someone lost their job.  Under the current federal COBRA insurance regulations, most people who lose or quit their job and work for a company with at least 20 employees who receive health insurance will qualify for COBRA.  This benefit also extends of family members.

Once you sign up and elect COBRA insurance, it works just like your prior health insurance plan did since it is the exact same plan.  You can visit the same doctors, will have the same co-payments and deductibles, and same prescription expenses.  The main difference that you will see with COBRA is that you will now have to pay the entire cost of the insurance plus a 2% administration fee.  For many people this will be 50-75% more than what they paid when they were employed.  The COBRA insurance coverage lasts for 18 months in most circumstances.

How Do I Apply For COBRA Insurance?

Posted on: November 30th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

People holding handsMany people wonder to themselves, “How Do I Apply For COBRA Insurance?” after losing a job or quitting their job.  It is already a stressful time and this can be one additional hassle that people worry about.  Luckily, applying for COBRA insurance is extremely easy and just takes a small amount of paperwork.

1.  Get the COBRA Insurance Election form from your employer:  In most cases your employer will provide you with a COBRA election form within 14 days of your health insurance ending.  This form contains the names of the people who are eligible for COBRA, the cost, and the date by which you must apply.  You can always ask your employer for the form to get it sooner and apply for COBRA.

2.  Complete the form:  Next you just need to complete the form in its entirety to apply for COBRA insurance.  Include the names of everyone who is signing up and review the form.

3.  Mail the COBRA application form in with the premium:  Finally you will have 60 days to apply for COBRA.  Once you are ready, mail in the form with the premium payment.

How Do I Get COBRA Insurance?

Posted on: November 25th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Woman reading paperMany people wonder how they can go about getting COBRA insurance and surprisingly the process to get COBRA insurance is actually quite simple.

1.  Ask your employer for the COBRA insurance election form:  Although your employer is mandated by law to provide you with the COBRA insurance election form, it is always beneficial just to ask for it.  This will ensure you will get it as soon as possible.  This form will contain information about the monthly cost as well.

2.  Review the form and determine if COBRA insurance is the best option:  When you receive the form review it carefully to make sure you understand who is eligible, the cost, and the date by which you must enroll.  Then explore alternatives to make sure COBRA is right for you.

3.  Determine which family members will enroll in COBRA insurance:  You do not have to enroll every family member in COBRA to get COBRA insurance.  Make careful decisions about who to enroll and consider if anyone has alternative options for health insurance.

4.  Mail in the election form within 60 days:  You have 60 days to mail in the election form.  Make sure to mail it in on time and you will also need to send in the premium.

5.  Pay your COBRA premiums on time:  COBRA insurance can be cancelled any time the premiums are not paid on time.  Make sure that you always pay the insurance premium on time and reach out to your health insurance provider if you do not think you will be able to.

 

It’s that simple to get COBRA insurance.

What is COBRA Insurance Coverage?

Posted on: November 23rd, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Nurse and computerThis is a question that frequently surfaces anytime someone is considering leaving a job or gets laid off from their job.  COBRA insurance coverage in very basic language, is the ability to keep your current health insurance.  Under the law, COBRA insurance coverage, means that you can choose to maintain your current health insurance plan (the exact same plan) at full cost to you for up to 18 months in most cases.  So with COBRA insurance coverage, you keep the exact same doctor, medications, etc since you are just paying the full cost of the plan you had with your employer.

However, in order to get COBRA insurance coverage you also must meet the federal requirements for COBRA.  There are three requirements and most people and families find that they are eligible an can keep their health insurance.

COBRA Insurance Requirements

Posted on: November 21st, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Question There are three main requirements under the federal law to qualify for and enroll in COBRA insurance.  The COBRA insurance requirements are:

1.  Qualifying Event:  This refers to how you lost your employment and health insurance coverage.  Under the federal COBRA insurance requirements, you will meet the qualifying event criteria if you were laid off, quit, or lost your job and there was no presence of gross misconduct.  You can also qualify if your hours were reduced and you are no longer qualified for health insurance.

2: Qualifying Plan:  The qualifying plan COBRA insurance requirements refers to the type of health insurance plan that your employer had.  In most cases if your employer’s plan covered 20 employees, or their part time equivalents,  you will be eligible for COBRA health insurance.

3:  Qualifying Beneficiaries:  The last COBRA insurance requirement refers to who is eligible for COBRA insurance.  In most cases any spouse and dependents will be covered.  This usually means that anyone that was covered can remain covered.

COBRA Insurance Divorce

Posted on: November 14th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Getting a divorce can be hard enough and then on top of that you have to make difficult decisions about health insurance.  What many people do not realize is that getting a divorce is a covered qualifying event under COBRA.  So what does that mean?  That means if you were on your spouse’s health insurance plan and it meets the federal plan requirements, that you can keep your health insurance coverage for up to 18 months in the event of divorce.

You will need to get COBRA insurance election forms from your spouse’s health insurance company.  Usually a quick phone call can accomplish this.  You will then have 60 days to complete the paperwork and sign up for COBRA health insurance.  Once you sign up you will be responsible for paying the entire premium to keep the insurance.  It can be cancelled at any time should you find your own health insurance, get a job with health insurance, or get remarried.

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