Continuation is available only for coverages that you or your dependents were enrolled in at the time of the Qualifying Event. 

When are plan changes allowed?

There are certain circumstances where you may be able to switch to another health plan either when you elect COBRA or during your COBRA coverage period:

  • Open enrollment: If similarly situated employees and dependents can switch between health plan choices at open enrollment, COBRA Qualified Beneficiaries will be offered the same option. You will be notified by Vita COBRA if there is an open enrollment period and of any plan change opportunities.

  • Moving outside the health plan service area: If you were covered under a region-specific plan (such as an HMO) and you move outside of your health plan’s service area, you will typically not be eligible to continue coverage under that plan. You may be eligible to change to another health plan if the employer has another plan that offers coverage in your new location. If you wish to avail yourself of this option to change plans due to moving outside your current plan’s eligibility radius, you must notify Vita COBRA in writing within 30 days of becoming ineligible under your current health plan, either during your COBRA election period or while you are actively covered under COBRA. A change in coverage may not be effective until the first day of the month following your written request for alternative coverage.

Can I change who is covered under COBRA?

If I choose not to elect all qualified beneficiaries to COBRA now, can I add them later? There are two circumstances below where you can add a dependent to COBRA:

  1. Open enrollment: If similarly situated employees can add dependents at open enrollment, so can COBRA Qualified Beneficiaries. If at open enrollment, you enroll a family member who was formally a Qualified Beneficiary but who didn’t elect COBRA within the original election grace period, you can still add the family member to COBRA and they can be covered under COBRA. That family member will not have any direct Qualified Beneficiary rights, such as independent election rights. For example, the family member is not able to remain enrolled on COBRA without a Qualified Beneficiary enrolled on COBRA. Therefore, the family member added at open enrollment will be required to terminate from COBRA if all Qualified Beneficiaries on the account terminate from COBRA.

  2. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): This law allows that in certain circumstances active employees may enroll spouses and children to their group health plans. Qualified Beneficiaries have these same rights to enroll a spouse and children in COBRA coverage, just as if the Qualified Beneficiary were an active employee. These rights include:

  • New Spouse/Child: If you acquire a new dependent (due to marriage, birth, or adoption), you may elect to add your new dependent to COBRA. You or your family member must notify both Vita COBRA and the group health plan company in writing within 30 days of the marriage, birth or adoption, in order to enroll the dependent on COBRA. Please note that some health plans will enroll your new-born child at no cost for the first 30 days of coverage. Please contact your health carrier directly to see if you qualify.

  • Loss of Other Group Coverage: If your spouse or dependent children involuntarily lose other group health coverage as specified under HIPAA, you may be able to add your spouse or dependent child to your COBRA coverage. (This most typically happens when a spouse loses a job or changes jobs.)

You are responsible for notifying both Vita COBRA and your group health plan company in writing within 30 days of the date of loss of coverage of the other group health plan coverage, in order to enroll your dependent on COBRA. If you do not provide the required notification within 30 days, you will lose your right to add your dependents under the special HIPAA event rules.

How do I make changes to coverage after I elect?

Any changes to COBRA including address changes, open enrollment changes, extensions to coverage, and addition of new dependents must be made in writing directly to Vita COBRA. Any partial coverage cancellations (termination of some but not all Qualified Beneficiaries and/or health insurance plans) can either be made in writing or by phone. 

Written notification must either be sent to or provided by mail to the Vita COBRA address.