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Expert Q&A Archive

08/14/2009
I have a Question about COBRA insurance.
Hi. I was laid off in June, and my employer cut my insurance on June 30. Because they were withholding COBRA I called the state insurance people - I'm in New York state - and I just got an email today [July 31] saying that I need to pay for June and July to be covered with the COBRA. But I didn't go to the doctor because I thought I had no insurance. And now they're telling me I need to pay for June [and July] retroactively. Is that legal?
Fara Goodwin:
expert info »
Yes, it is legal to retroactively reimburse the Plan for COBRA benefits once an affirmative election has been made. Under the law, the Plan had 44 days after you terminated, or the insurance coverage lapsed, whichever is greater, in which to offer the COBRA Notice & Election form.

Upon receipt of the notice (actually, the date it was postmarked), you have an additional 60 days in which to elect or decline COBRA.

Upon election of COBRA, you have an additional 45 days in which to pay the first period payment at which time the coverage is retroactively reinstated. Note that if the timeframes are maxed out, the first period payment may stretch close to six months.

Upon receipt of the full period payment, the Plan is mandated to retroactively reinstate the insurance. Generally the former employee is terminated off the Plan and retroactively reinstated on the insurance once the full payment is received.

Please check our website for additional information www.dol.gov/ebsa/cobra.

Thank you for your question.

Fara Goodwin

Lead Benefits Advisor, Employee Benefits Security Administration
Region X, U.S. Department of Labor
 

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