COBRA: Office of Faculty and Staff Benefits

Georgetown University Logo Georgetown University Related Image

COBRA

 Overview
Pursuant to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), Georgetown University offers you the opportunity to temporarily continue participating in certain of your Georgetown University sponsored benefit plans if you would otherwise lose coverage due to your termination of employment, layoff, or other change in employment status (referred to as "qualifying events"). The most common qualifying event, other than termination of employment, occurs if you lose your coverage due to transferring from a benefits-eligible to a benefits-ineligible status -- (i.e. transferring from full time to part time employment).

It is also not uncommon for dependent children to elect COBRA when that child loses health insurance coverage due to either reaching a specified age limit or ceasing to be a full time college student.
If you choose to continue your benefits through COBRA, you must pay 102% of the total premium (employee plus employer portion). The law allows the 2% increase over the full premium cost because of the administrative cost employers must pay to administer COBRA benefits.

Click here to view COBRA rates for 2011.

Which Benefits Are Subject To COBRA Continuation?
You can elect COBRA continuation for the following benefits:
• Medical insurance
• Dental insurance
• Health care reimbursement account

How Does This Plan Work?
When you terminate employment, your coverage automatically continues until the end of the calendar month coincident with or following your date of termination. For example, if you terminate on April 1, your coverage continues until April 30th. If you terminate on May 31, your coverage continues until May 31st.

Georgetown University sends a list of all employees who have lost their insurance coverage to Colonial Health Care on a monthly basis. Colonial is the company Georgetown has engaged to provide us with COBRA administrative services. They send all participants a COBRA package via the US mail. This package consists of a letter, instruction forms, etc.


If you wish to elect COBRA coverage, you have 60 days to make your decision. The 60 days is measured by from the date the letter was sent to you. If you do not respond to this letter within 60 days, your COBRA coverage will end. If you elect COBRA coverage, you have 45 days from the day you elect coverage to make payment. If you do not make payment within this time period, your COBRA coverage will end. Thereafter, payments are due on the first of each month, subject to a 30-day grace period. If you do not make your subsequent monthly payments each month by this due date, your COBRA benefits will end.


How Long Does COBRA Last?
Generally, COBRA lasts up to 18 months. Special rules may extend this coverage due for unusual circumstances. For example, COBRA can be extended for you or your beneficiaries if:
• you become disabled after beginning to receive COBRA benefits
• you receive COBRA benefits as a surviving spouse
• you get a divorce or legal separation after beginning to receive COBRA
• your child is receiving COBRA benefits because he can no longer be covered under your plan as a dependent.
The rules surrounding these exceptions are complex. If you experience one of these qualifying events after beginning to receive COBRA, please contact Colonial Health Care. They can be reached at 877-819-9413. They will determine how the event impacts your COBRA continuation period.

Can My Child Elect COBRA Coverage Without Affecting The Coverage Status Of Other Family Members?
Absolutely. If your child is no longer eligible to be carried on your plan as a dependent, he or she can elect COBRA coverage without affecting the coverage of other family members. He or she can simply elect "single" coverage and pay the single premium.

Of course, if you are covering only you and that child, you can reduce your coverage tier from "family" to "individual" coverage when that child elects COBRA. If you are covering several dependents, and one child "ages out" as a dependent and elects COBRA coverage, your coverage tier will remain "family" and your premium will not change.


Can I Request An Extension of My COBRA Benefits?
No. Your COBRA benefits cannot be extended beyond the legally mandated maximum time limits.

If I Elect COBRA, Is There A Minimum Participation Period?
No. There is no minimum period. In fact, many participants choose to continue their benefits through COBRA for less than the legally mandated maximum limits.


Important Caveat Regarding Timing of Your COBRA Notice
Please note that many of the administrative processes surrounding COBRA are retroactive in nature. For example, depending on your date of termination, you may receive your initial COBRA notice from Colonial Health Care as long as six weeks after your date of termination. You may elect to have health insurance coverage during this period, but coverage would not be in effect until you make an election and submitted premium payment.

Similarly, your coverage would not automatically be in effect during your 60 day "decision making" period and your 45 day "initial payment" grace period. However, provided that you submit your election along with the first month's premium payment, your coverage would be retroactive back to the date that your original coverage ended. Please note that if you exercise the maximum amount of these grace periods, your retroactive premium payments might be large. Please budget yourself accordingly if you plan on taking full advantage of these legally mandated grace periods.

Personal Changes While On COBRA
Please note you will be making your COBRA payments directly to Colonial Health Care, not to Georgetown. You should notify Colonial regarding any change of address, changes in your marital status, or birth of a child during your COBRA period.

 

Office of Faculty and Staff Benefits · Georgetown University
37th & O St NW, Ground Floor, Healy Hall · Washington, DC 20057-1021
tel. (202) 687-2500 · fax. (202) 687-2389 ·
Georgetown University Seal