Cobra Benefits and Premium Reduction

Under Illinois and Federal Law, when an employee who has health insurance through their employer loses their insurance through a reduction in hours or a loss of job, they, and their spouse and children, may be eligible for up to a 15 month continuation of benefits under COBRA or similar state laws. Normally under COBRA, the former employee is responsible for the entire COBRA premium, plus potentially an administrative fee. 

Under the Federal Stimulus package (ARRA) and its extension signed on December 11, 2009, individuals who lose group health coverage because of an involuntary termination between September 1, 2008, and February 28, 2010, may be eligible for a 65% reduction of their COBRA premiums for up to 15 months.  The state version, called “Mini-COBRA”, is applicable to small employers (under 20 employees) who offer insurance, and offers the same 65% reduction for up to 12 months. This means that instead of the job-less employee paying the full amount, they would only pay 35% of the COBRA premium. 

The stimulus package also provided a chance for some individuals to opt in to COBRA coverage even after their initial coverage window expired.  Some individuals who were already terminated after September 1, 2008 but before February 16, 2009 were to receive a notice of the ARRA provided premium reduction and a second chance to opt-in to coverage.  Individuals should have received that notice by April 18, 2009, and had 60 days to elect COBRA coverage, despite missing their first COBRA coverage opportunity. 

Under COBRA, there is a limited amount of time to elect coverage, with some very strict enforcement of deadlines, so act quickly. If you are having problems with your employer or your insurer regarding your COBRA benefits, or were recently terminated and need to discuss COBRA benefits, please contact Jensen Law Office, LLC to further discuss your situation.

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