When will coverage start?
Your COBRA coverage will begin the day after your employer coverage ended, as indicated by the “First Day of COBRA” on the COBRA Election Form. As such, COBRA is generally continuous with no break in coverage. If you make your COBRA election later in your election period (for example, after a month), your COBRA coverage will be effective retroactively with no break in coverage. As such, you must pay premiums retroactively, as well, even if you have not incurred any health plan claims during this period.
What coverage can be continued?
COBRA applies only to group health plans as defined by the law (typically medical, dental, vision, health reimbursement accounts, employee assistance programs, and health flexible spending accounts). Other coverages provided by your employee benefit plan (such as life and disability coverage) are not included in these continuation rights.
Your continued health coverage will be the same as the health coverage provided for similarly situated employees or dependents of the employer that have not had a Qualifying Event. Any future plan or rate changes affecting the benefit plans for current employees and/or dependents will affect your continued coverage as well.
Continuation is only available for coverages that you or your dependents were enrolled in at the time of the Qualifying Event.
Am I obligated to keep COBRA for the entire coverage period?
No. There is no obligation to continue COBRA for the maximum duration period. You may drop your COBRA coverage at the end of any month. Coverage cannot be pro-rated within a month period and can only be canceled at the start of a monthly payment period. It is important to note that generally coverage that is dropped may not be re-started again in the future, even if it would otherwise be within your regular duration of coverage. In certain limited circumstances, coverage may be added at Open Enrollment for individuals who are still active Qualified Beneficiaries for other coverage, however, this is subject to insurance carrier rules.
Can I drop any coverage at any time?
In most circumstances, you can request to cancel some or all of your coverage at any time during the continuation period. For example, you can initially decide to elect both medical and dental coverage, then drop medical after one month but continue dental for the duration of the COBRA period. However, there are certain situations when two or more plans are “tied” together. This arrangement is a result of coverages being tied for active employees. While this is not overly common, when plans are tied, you may not drop just one of the tied plans. As an example, sometimes dental and vision plans are tied. Coverage cancellation requests can either be made in writing via e-mail, paper mail, or phone.