The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, or COBRA, allows you to continue group medical insurance, prescription drug, dental and vision coverage on an individual basis when you or your dependents become ineligible for University benefits. Under a special rule, you might be able to continue your health care flexible spending accounts on a post-tax basis.
How do I qualify for COBRA Continuation coverage?
You and your dependents qualify for COBRA coverage should you experience the following status changes:
- Your employment is terminated;
- You receive a reduction of appointment causing you to lose benefit eligibility, or
- You transfer to a position which is not eligible for benefits.
Your spouse and dependents may qualify for COBRA continuation in the event of your death, divorce or when a child no longer qualifies as a covered dependent (marriage, too old for dependent coverage, reaching independent status, etc.). Please see the CMU Choices Flexible Benefits Plan Document for more information.
How will I be notified about COBRA Continuation coverage?
When you lose eligibility based on your employment status changes, the Benefits Office will be aware of the changes and will automatically mail you an application for COBRA continuation. If you do not receive your COBRA information within a reasonable length of time (no longer than 14 days), please call the Benefits Office immediately at (989) 774-3661. You have only 60 days following your status change to apply for COBRA coverage.
How will a dependent be notified?
If your dependents lose coverage due to your death, divorce or ineligibility, the Benefits Office will not know of these changes, and therefore, will not automatically mail out COBRA information. You or your designate must notify the Benefits office within 60 days of the changes so that your dependents will qualify for COBRA coverage. You must complete and return a status change form or provide written notice of the qualifying event to the Benefits office. Your notice must include: the name of the employee or former employee who is or was a plan participant, a description of the qualifying event, the date of the qualifying event, any documents or materials relevant to the qualifying event, and the name(s), address(es), and Social Security number(s) of the covered dependent(s) affected by the qualifying event.
You can mail your status change form or notice to the Benefits office located at Rowe Hall #108. Be sure your home address is current with Human Resources or Faculty Personnel Services. COBRA information will be sent to your last known home address. If you have an address change after your termination date, please contact the Benefits office at (989) 774-3661.
How do I elect COBRA Continuation coverage?
Once the Benefits Office receives notice that a qualifying event has occurred, COBRA Continuation coverage will be offered to each qualified beneficiary. To elect continuation coverage, you must complete the election form mailed to you and submit it to the Benefits office by the deadline on the form.
Each qualified beneficiary has a separate right to elect COBRA Continuation coverage. For example, your spouse may elect coverage even if you do not. COBRA Continuation coverage may be elected for only one, several, or all dependent children who are qualified beneficiaries. A parent may elect or reject Continuation coverage for any minor children. You and your spouse may elect Continuation coverage for each other, but cannot reject coverage for the other person.
After you have submitted your election forms, if it is determined that you or a covered dependent is not entitled to Continuation coverage, you will be provided with a written explanation of why the election of Continuation coverage could not be honored.
How much does COBRA Continuation coverage cost?
The cost of COBRA Continuation coverage includes both the CMU and employee contributions for coverage, not to exceed 102% of the full cost of coverage. The required payment for each COBRA Continuation period for each option will be described in the notice sent to you. You can click here for the most current COBRA Continuation rates.
Please refer to the CMU Choices Plan Document for details of the payment process.
How long can I continue on COBRA Continuation coverage?
Generally, COBRA continuation coverage for you and/or your Covered Dependents may continue for:
- 18 months when your employment ends or position is reduced or changed and you lose benefit eligibility.
- 36 months for your Covered Dependents when they event is a divorce or legal separation, your death, your enrollment in Medicare or a child's loss of eligibility status for coverage.
- If you participate in a Health Care Flexible Spending Account, COBRA Continuation coverage is only available until the end of the plan year in which the qualifying event occurs and may not be extended beyond that date.
Are There Alternatives to COBRA Continuation coverage?
Yes, other coverage options are available through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Marketplace is designed to help you find health insurance that meets your needs and fits your budget. The Marketplace offers "one-stop shopping" to find and compare private health insurance options.
Why Should I Consider The Marketplace Instead of COBRA Coverage?
You may be eligible for a new kind of tax credit that lowers your monthly premium right away and you can see what your premium, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs will be before you make a decision to enroll.
Being eligible for COBRA does not limit your eligibility for coverage for a tax credit through the Marketplace.
What If I'm Interested in Marketplace Coverage?
Go to www.HealthCare.gov to review the plans available in your state or call
1-800-318-2596 (TYY: 1-855-889-4325) with any questions.