If your Arizona group health insurance ends because of what is termed a "qualifying event," you may be eligible for an extension of that coverage under COBRA (the Consolidated Budget Reconciliation Act).
You should receive notification of COBRA eligibility when you leave
your job, your hours are cut or your status is changed as a dependent.
You have 60 days from the date of the notice to notify in writing
whoever manages the employee health plan what your intentions are. This
also applies if you have divorced, or legally separated, or you are no
longer eligible as a dependent.
It is the responsibility of the manager of the group health plan to send you a notice about the amount of the premium due and how to sign up for COBRA.
Once you have received this notice, and before the deadline passes, you should send in the application with the correct premium amount. It will be your responsibility henceforth to make the premium payments in a timely manner to keep the COBRA coverage in effect.
Many former employees are surprised when they find out the cost of their new COBRA coverage. You basically are now paying the total cost of what the company was paying before, which can mean that your are paying the company's share under the previous set up as well as your own. Group insurance is typically more expensive than individual Arizona health insurance; the premiums are high to cover the cost of those If the company is paying the total premium, it is not an issue when you were covered as full-time employee; but if you start paying all or part of it, you will quickly become aware of the higher cost.
COBRA coverage is not automatically issued; you do have to apply for
it. It is paid monthly and can be canceled monthly as well. You also
have a 62-day window in which to apply. If you wait to the deadline, you
will have to pay for the previous two months to bring the COBRA coverage
up to date.
You have the same benefits under COBRA as you had under your prior Arizona group health insurance, or for any other employee currently enrolled under the same plan. If open enrollment periods are offered to the other employees, you must be able switch plans, too. There are no restrictions because of preconditions. If your precondition was covered under the old plan, it will be covered under COBRA. Any additional plans offered to the group, such as dental and vision, must be offered to you as well under COBRA.
After COBRA expires, you can get coverage from an individual or family Arizona health insurance plan. If you apply within 60 days of your COBRA plan's expiration, you will be eligible for a special enrollment period to apply. If you wait until after 60 days, you will have to wait until the next open enrollment period, which historically has started the beginning of November.
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