Health Benefits Under the COBRA
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.
Role of the Federal Government
Continuation coverage laws are administered by several agencies. The Departments of Labor and Treasury have jurisdiction over private sector health plans. The United States Public Health Service administers the continuation coverage law as it affects public sector health plans.
The Labor Department's interpretative and regulatory responsibility is limited to the disclosure and notification requirements. If you need further information on your election or notification rights with a private sector plan, write to the nearest office of the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (See http://www2.dol.gov/dol/pwba/public/contacts/folist.htm ) or:
U.S. Department of Labor
Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration
Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries
200 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210
The Internal Revenue Service, which is in the Department of the Treasury, is responsible for publishing regulations on COBRA provisions relating to eligibility and premiums. Both Labor and Treasury share jurisdiction for enforcement.
The U.S. Public Health Service, located in the Department of Health and Human Services, has published Title XXII of the Public Health Service Act entitled "Requirements for Certain Group Health Plans for Certain State and Local Employees." Information about COBRA provisions concerning public sector employees is available from the:
U.S. Public Health Service
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health
Grants Policy Branch (COBRA)
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857
Federal employees are covered by a law similar to COBRA. Those employees should contact the personnel office serving their agency for more information on temporary extensions of health benefits.