Paying for COBRA Coverage continued...
The initial premium payment must be made within 45 days after the date of the COBRA election by the qualified beneficiary. Payment generally must cover the period of coverage from the date of COBRA election retroactive to the date of the loss of coverage due to the qualifying event. Premiums for successive periods of coverage are due on the date stated in the plan with a minimum 30-day grace period for payments.
The due date may not be prior to the first day of the period of coverage. For example, the due date for the month of January could not be prior to January 1 and coverage for January could not be cancelled if payment is made by January 31.
Premiums for the rest of the COBRA period must be made within 30 days after the due date for each such premium or such longer period as provided by the plan. The plan, however, is not obligated to send monthly premium notices.
COBRA beneficiaries remain subject to the rules of the plan and therefore must satisfy all costs related to deductibles, catastrophic and other benefit limits.
Health plan rules must explain how to obtain benefits and must include written procedures for processing claims. Claims procedures are to be included in the SPD booklet.
You should submit a written claim for benefits to whomever is designated to operate the health plan (employer, plan administrator, etc.). If the claim is denied, notice of denial must be in writing and furnished generally within 90 days after the claim is filed. The notice should state the reasons for the denial, any additional information needed to support the claim and procedures for appealing the denial.
You have 60 days to appeal a denial and must receive a decision on the appeal within 60 days after that unless the plan:
- provides for a special hearing, or
- the decision must be made by a group which meets only on a periodic basis.
Contact the plan administrator for more information on filing a claim for benefits. Complete plan rules are available from employers or benefits offices. There can be charges up to 25 cents a page for copies of plan rules.
Coordination with Other Benefits
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), effective August 5, 1993, requires an employer to maintain coverage under any "group health plan" for an employee on FMLA leave under the same conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued working. Coverage provided under the FMLA is not COBRA coverage, and FMLA leave is not a qualifying event under COBRA. A COBRA qualifying event may occur, however, when an employer's obligation to maintain health benefits under FMLA ceases, such as when an employee notifies an employer of his or her intent not to return to work.
Further information on FMLA is available from the nearest office of the Wage and Hour Division, listed in most telephone directories under U.S. Government, Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration.