How Long Does COBRA Last?
COBRA continuation coverage allows an employee to stay on their employer’s group health plan after leaving their job.
Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) , continuation of health coverage starts from the date the covered employee’s health insurance ends and, depending on the type of qualifying event, may last for 18 months, 29 months or 36 months. Let’s examine these time frames.
Duration for Covered Employees
Employees are eligible for 18 months of continued coverage under COBRA if the qualifying event stems from reduction of hours or termination of employment for reasons other than gross misconduct. Note that termination can be voluntary or involuntary, including retirement.
Employees who develop a disability, as determined by the Social Security Administration, within the first 60 days of receiving COBRA coverage are eligible for an additional 11 months of coverage, which equals a maximum coverage period of 29 months. To obtain this extension, the employee must inform the plan administrator of his or her disability within 60 days of receiving the disability determination and before the 18-month period expires.
You can terminate a participant’s COBRA coverage prior to the duration set by law in the following cases:
- You’ve terminated all of your group health plans.
- The participant fails to pay his or her COBRA premiums on time. You must give the participant a grace period of at least 30 days to make late payments.
- The participant gains coverage under another plan.
- The participant is no longer deemed disabled by the SSA.
- The participant became entitled to Medicare after electing COBRA coverage.
COBRA is the most commonly outsourced Human Resources function because it is extremely complex and time-consuming when administered correctly. At BASIC, we have excelled at reducing risk and liability for employers since 1995 and have developed industry-leading best practices for COBRA administration to ensure consistent and reliable compliance that meets all the COBRA requirements.