In this day, when companies are facing layoffs, buyouts, and other financial difficulties, it may be challenging to hold on to an acceptable health insurance policy. However, there has been a couple of programs that will allow you to keep the same coverage you had before your situation changed – if you act soon enough. Here are some things you need to know about the COBRA program that could enable you to enjoy the same health insurance coverage you had.
COBRA, which stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, enables you to keep the same coverage up to 18 months. In some cases, this period may be extended for an even more extended period for dependents.
To qualify for this program, participants have to meet specific qualifications. The good news is that the conditions for COBRA are relatively lenient. If you were an employee and are now out of work, you may qualify – even if you were fired or laid off. The exception is if you were extremely negligent in your duties or performed some act of misconduct that got you fired.
Other qualifying situations may occur in the event of a divorce or the death of the employee. Sometimes there may also be a separation involved, or the employee may retire or go on Medicare. In cases like this, the coverage may be extended for periods up to 36 months. However, one situation where coverage will not be given is if the company goes out of business. In that event, though, you may still be able to get your health insurance coverage through HIPAA.
Application Time Is Limited
After a qualifying event occurs, you need to act relatively fast because there is not much time you need to apply for the COBRA program. You must work within 30 days of the event by informing the insurance plan administrator (the employer) of your intent to continue the coverage. It would help if you did it in writing – for your records. After you notify them, they will send you a letter within 14 days, and then you have up to 60 days to decide if you will accept the COBRA coverage.
While you can continue the coverage that you had before the event, there is a significant difference that also takes place. Whereas the employer paid a part of the premiums previously – now it becomes entirely up to you to meet the full price. So, there may be a little sticker shock because it will not be cheap. Since group insurance is usually much less expensive, you may be surprised at just how much the employer was paying.
One of the great benefits of using the COBRA health insurance coverage is that there most likely will not be any preexisting conditions given since you were already covered before. This means that your content continues without any hitches – hopefully, you can continue to enjoy what you had back.
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