Notice about this post
Note: this post is copied from Illinois Department of Insurance
Continuation Rights pdf. I will leave a link to the pdf in this post
With the high costs of medical care, maintaining health coverage is considered important to everyone. Illinois
law does not require employers to provide health benefits for their employees or their families. However, if you
are covered by an employer’s health benefits, the loss of coverage can be devastating.
State and federal laws give certain employees, spouses and dependent children the right to continue employersponsored health benefits at group rates if they lose their benefits because of specific “qualifying events.” The type of policy, your employer and qualifying event will determine who is qualified for continuing coverage and for how long.
This fact sheet provides specific information on the federal continuation requirements under COBRA, the Illinois
Dependent Child Continuation Law, the Illinois Continuation Law, and the
Illinois Spousal Continuation Law.
Under all four laws:
- The employer or plan administrator must notify you of your right to continue your health benefits when certain qualifying events have occurred. If both the state and federal laws apply to your situation, the employer or plan administrator must offer you both options. You must choose one or the other option.
NOTE: In some cases, the spouse, former spouse, dependent child or guardian must notify the employer
and/or insurer that a qualifying event has occurred, such as divorce from or death of the covered employee or
attainment of the limiting age by the dependent child. If you don’t give proper notification, your continuation rights may be lost.
- Once you are offered continuation, you must elect to continue coverage within a certain time period, called the election period. If you don’t inform the employer you want to continue coverage before the election period expires, you may lose that right. If you have the option of either the state or federal continuations, once you make your choice, you can’t change your decision if the election period has expired.
- Coverage will continue for the maximum amount of time required by law. However, coverage can end earlier in some cases, such as when the beneficiary becomes eligible for Medicare, if the employer no longer offers any group health insurance benefits for employees or if you secure insurance through other means.
- You must pay the entire premium for the coverage, including the part you used to pay as well as the part the employer paid before the qualifying event. In addition, you may also be required to pay an administrative fee under certain circumstances for COBRA and Spousal Continuation.
Your group insurance certificate, evidence of coverage or benefit plan summary booklet explains your options and responsibilities in detail. You should read the information now. Don’t wait until you need your continuation right.
What Is COBRA?
COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985) is a federal law, enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, which provides continuation of group health coverage that otherwise might be terminated. The law, found here, contains provisions giving certain former employees, retirees, spouses and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates.
Which Plans Are Subject To COBRA?
COBRA applies to group health plans maintained by employers who had 20 or more employees on more than 50% of the business days in the prior calendar year, and plans sponsored by state and local governments. The following types of group health plans are subject to COBRA:
• Insured and self-insured employer group health plans;
• Employee assistance plans that provide benefits beyond referral services such as counseling sessions;
• Dental plans;
• Vision plans;
• Retiree health plans;
• Health flexible spending accounts;
• Employer discount programs maintained by health care clinics where the program is utilized exclusively by
employees with health or medical needs;
• Employer reimbursed health insurance policies purchased to bridge coverage under the employer’s group health plan (certain restrictions apply).
COBRA does not apply to:
- Small employer plans (under 20 employees);
- Certain church and church-related plans;
- Plans sponsored by the federal government (e.g. federal employee or military personnel plans);
- Disability income plans;
- Life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment plans;
- Long term care coverage;
- Amounts contributed by an employer to a Medical Savings Account.
Who Is Eligible for COBRA Continuation Coverage?
A qualified beneficiary under COBRA may include an employee, employee’s spouse or former spouse, and/or
the employee’s dependent child who is covered under the group health plan on the day before the qualifying
event. A child born to or placed for adoption with a covered employee during a period of COBRA coverage is
also a qualified beneficiary if COBRA has been elected and the child has been enrolled upon birth or adoption. In
certain cases, involving the bankruptcy of the employer sponsoring the plan, a retired employee, the retired
employee’s spouse (or former spouse), and the retired employee’s dependent children may be qualified
beneficiaries. Agents, independent contractors, and directors who participate in the group health plan may also be
qualified beneficiaries. Note that an event is a qualifying event only if it causes the qualified beneficiary to lose coverage under the plan.To read the complete pdf of this post click on this link to download the PDF