What is COBRA?
A federal law, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (“COBRA”), allows certain individuals to continue their group health plan coverage at their own expense when that coverage otherwise would end because of a life event known as a “qualifying event.” After a qualifying event, COBRA coverage must be offered to each person who is a qualified beneficiary.
How long does COBRA coverage last?
COBRA coverage can last for either 18 or 36 months depending on the qualifying event. If the qualifying event is a reduction in your work hours or the end of your employment, your COBRA coverage will last for up to 18 months. If the qualifying event is your death, your enrollment in Medicare (Part A, Part B, or both), your divorce or legal separation, or a dependent child aging off your group health plan, then your COBRA coverage will last for up to 36 months.
What is P&A Group’s role in my COBRA coverage?
At P&A Group, we are an administrator that helps employers and employees manage the COBRA coverage process. We are not an insurance company, nor do we create any of the rules or time guidelines associated with COBRA, which is a federally regulated law.
Once you are eligible for COBRA, we will send you the required explanation of your rights, election forms, and, if applicable, insurance application forms. If you elect COBRA coverage, you will complete and return the necessary documentation to us so we can enroll you in COBRA and send out your first bill. After that, we will send you a bill every month. You must pay your COBRA premiums on time to keep your coverage.
What are my payment options for my COBRA premium?
There are three ways you can make a COBRA payment:
- Log in to your My Benefits account and set up an ACH withdrawal, which is an automatic withdrawal from your chosen bank account.
Call our automated telephone system at (800) 688-2611, where you can make a payment over the phone. You may also receive your open invoices, paid through date and other account information.
- Mail a personal check to P&A Group, 17 Court Street Suite 500, Buffalo, NY 14202.
- Contact our customer service department at (800) 688-2611 x6705 to make a one-time online payment.
When is my COBRA payment due?
After you make your first COBRA premium, you will be required to pay for each subsequent month of coverage. These payments are due on the first day of each month of coverage. However, your premium payment will be considered as paid on time if it is received within 30 days after the due date. If your payment is not received by the first of the month, P&A will send you a Late Notice. Late Notices are sent out approximately the 15th of each month for that month. If your payment for that month is not received or postmarked by the end of the month, you will be terminated for non-payment and your COBRA coverage will be cancelled and cannot be reinstated.
Can I switch health plan coverage so COBRA payments are cheaper?
No. You are required to stay in the health plan that you were in at the time of your qualifying event. The only time you can make a change is during your previous employer’s open enrollment period.
My dependent received a COBRA packet – what do we do?
If your son/daughter is no longer eligible to be covered under your insurance, we will send him/her a COBRA packet. Your son/daughter will need to complete the COBRA election form and any applications necessary. All the paperwork must be filled out by the dependent. The parent’s information does not need to be on the forms.
Can I cancel my COBRA coverage?
Yes. You may cancel your COBRA coverage at any time. However, once it is cancelled, it cannot be reinstated. You must submit your request to cancel coverage to P&A in writing. We require your name, your employer (or previous employer), and the effective date you want the coverage cancelled. You can submit that information through your My Benefits account, mail, or fax.
What happens when my COBRA coverage ends?
When you have reached the maximum period of coverage (either 18 or 36 months), your COBRA coverage will end. You may be able to convert your COBRA coverage to individual coverage with your current insurance carrier or purchase a new policy through a public or private health insurance exchange. To find out more about any conversion rights you may have when your COBRA coverage ends, please contact your carrier directly to find out how to do this. Please note that state insurance rules may vary.