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COBRA Health Benefits Continuation.

Summary of member discussion.  May 27, 2021.

"The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. [emphasis added] Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102% of the cost to the plan.

"COBRA generally requires that group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees in the prior year offer employees and their families the opportunity for a temporary extension of health coverage (called continuation coverage) in certain instances where coverage under the plan would otherwise end.

"COBRA outlines how employees and family members may elect continuation coverage. It also requires employers and plans to provide notice."

--Department of Labor homepage on COBRA -- with links to details for workers and families: https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/health-plans/cobra


Summary of discussion on the HPAlumni-Benefits group. Thanks to everyone for chiming in!

Contact info for HPInc and HPE Benefits Centers: https://www.hpalumni.org/BenefitsCenters

 

Advice and reference info from members. This topic is covered in the HPAlumni-Benefits group. To join: HPAA Benefits Group

--cg, moderator

 

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Key COBRA document on the Department of Labor website:

"APPENDIX TO 2590 -- Summary of the COBRA Premium Assistance Provisions under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021"

Covers eligibility requirements, deadlines, and detailed rules. Includes forms and contact phone number.
https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy/summary-of-provisions.pdf

[Found by member wjr]

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HP informed me that my Cobra dental and vision coverage expires soon (18 months from retirement date) but it isn't clear if I can continue it with some different payment amount, or if it simply goes away. Would be nice to know, as open enrollment is still 6 months away.
--Mike

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Since I was affected by the WFR in Feb., HP was offering 90 days of COBRA, after which you had to pay.
A key factor was that you had to opt in prior to your end of 2 weeks notice, however, the law reads that you have additional time to opt in, so the source of the information may not have been as
up to date on what exactly was offered.

I opted in, then received 2 bills and then 2 more bills for coverage, which meant I had to go back to cue the administration of benefits of the free coverage and prove to them that I was offered it.
--Barbara

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The COBRA coverage simply expires. The HPE Benefits Center told me that I must call them the day after the COBRA coverage expires if I wish to enroll with them.
My husband is an HPE retiree and we are a split family (one Medicare eligible, one not), so I will be paying full price for medical coverage. There is no dental coverage available if staying with HPE.
--Jean

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HP informed me that my Cobra dental and vision coverage expires soon (18 months from retirement date) but it isn't clear if I can continue it with some different payment amount, or if it simply goes away.
Would be nice to know, as open enrollment is still 6 months away.
--ww

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I was on HPE Cobra coverage for dental and vision until this month when I signed up through AON for an Aetna plan covering dental, vision and hearing.

I'm no expert but believe the plans are available, particularly because you are losing Cobra coverage. Additionally, the cost was more reasonable than Cobra as well.

I suggest you call the HP/HPE benefits center for a little guidance.

--Ted

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My understanding of this is that Cobra coverage goes away after the 18 months but you can buy personal dental and vision insurance at any time of the year.

It is not like hospital and medical insurance that normally has an open enrollment period. At least that is my understanding of this.

You didn't mention hospital and medical insurance and/or Medicare because that would open up another can of worms but dental (Met Life Dental, Delta Dental, and the like) and vision (VSP, EyeMed, and the like) should be available for purchase at any time.

Like Cobra coverage, it may be expensive without a subsidy or reimbursement account but it should be available.

Plus with so many different flavors of coverage options and out of pocket limits, you may have a plethora of choices. That's the good news! The bad news is you may have a plethora of choices! :-)

--Joseph

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COBRA coverage is required by Federal Law (details are Google-able).

It ends, with very few exceptions, 18 months (to the day) from when a person leaves the company.

I went through that when I left HPE in 2017 and found it best to follow the steps provided by HP/HPE to the letter.

One thing I did ask above and beyond what HPE told me was ask if I could pay for it (HP/HPE-Retiree Medical) ahead of time (as opposed in the rears). I just did that to leave one less thing on the "to-do" list for after my COBRA coverage ended.

Other than that, HP and HPE are obligated to detail the steps you need to take to ensure you have continuity of coverage.

It is weird and uncomfortable to call after COBRA coverage has elapsed to detail/setup your new medical coverage, but true to what I was told, it showed me as covered retroactive back to the instant the COBRA coverage ended after all was said and done.

--Skip

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Depending on where you live, ACA coverage is worth a look for post-COBRA coverage or to replace COBRA.

The American Rescue Act (ARA) removed the relatively low income limits.

Replacing COBRA with ACA coverage saved me more than 60%, and that was before the ARA subsidy increases.

Costs and subsidies vary a lot by state, though. I live in a state that uses the healthcare.gov exchange, and has very high premiums and high ACA subsidies.

--Bailey

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What about CAL COBRA? From what little I read, it seems to extend Federal COBRA an additional 18 months, in some cases. Which cases qualify wasn't crystal clear.
https://www.dmhc.ca.gov/healthcareincalifornia/typesofplans/keepyourhealthcoverage(cobra).aspx
[Nope. See next note --cg, moderator.]
--AlanM

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[From an earlier thread...] I had the exact same experience in 2020 when my Cobra ran out and I had UHC. I learned as you did that UHC is self funded and doesn't qualify for Cal COBRA even though the Bswift letter I received at one year of COBRA indicated it would be eligible.

The only plan that is covered by Cal COBRA is Kaiser. Unless you can somehow convince them to let you switch to
Kaiser, you are out of luck as far as Cal COBRA. You can sign up for Covered CA or maybe you are eligible for the retiree plan (not cheap!).
--Carolyn

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There is a discount dental plan through the first tech CU. It is Delta dental which isn't great but better than nothing.
--Carl

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