Important Information About Your Federal COBRA Continuation Coverage Rights
Federal law requires that most group health plans (including this Plan) give employees and their families the opportunity to continue their health care coverage when there is a “qualifying event” that would result in a loss of coverage under an employer’s plan. Depending on the type of qualifying event, “qualified beneficiaries” can include the employee (or retired employee) covered under the group health plan, the covered employee’s spouse, and the dependent children of the covered employee.
Continuation coverage is the same coverage that the Plan gives to other participants or beneficiaries under the Plan who are not receiving continuation coverage. Each qualified beneficiary who elects continuation coverage will have the same rights under the Plan as other participants or beneficiaries covered under the Plan.
How long will continuation coverage last?
In the case of a loss of coverage due to end of employment or reduction in hours of employment, coverage generally may be continued only for up to a total of 18 months. In the case of losses of coverage due to an employee’s death, divorce or legal separation, the employee’s becoming entitled to Medicare benefits or a dependent child ceasing to be a dependent under the terms of the plan, coverage may be continued for up to a total of 36 months. When the qualifying event is the end of employment or reduction of the employee's hours of employment, and the employee became entitled to Medicare benefits less than 18 months before the qualifying event, COBRA continuation coverage for qualified beneficiaries other than the employee lasts until 36 months after the date of Medicare entitlement. This notice shows the maximum period of continuation coverage available to the qualified beneficiaries.
Continuation coverage will be terminated before the end of the maximum period if:
· any required premium is not paid in full on time,
· a qualified beneficiary first becomes covered, after electing continuation coverage, under another group health plan that does not impose any preexisting condition exclusion for a preexisting condition of the qualified beneficiary,
· a qualified beneficiary first becomes entitled to Medicare benefits (under Part A, Part B, or both) after electing continuation coverage, or
· the employer ceases to provide any group health plan for its employees.
Continuation coverage may also be terminated for any reason the Plan would terminate coverage of a participant or beneficiary not receiving continuation coverage (such as fraud).
How can you extend the length of COBRA continuation coverage?
If you elect continuation coverage, an extension of the maximum period of coverage may be available if a qualified beneficiary is disabled or a second qualifying event occurs. You must notify Wolfpack Insurance Services Inc. of a disability or a second qualifying event in order to extend the period of continuation coverage. Failure to provide notice of a disability or second qualifying event may affect the right to extend the period of continuation coverage.
An 11-month extension of coverage may be available if any of the qualified beneficiaries is determined under the Social Security Act (SSA) to be disabled. The disability has to have started at some time on or before the 60th day of COBRA continuation coverage and must last at least until the end of the 18-month period of continuation coverage. Each qualified beneficiary who has elected continuation coverage will be entitled to the 11-month disability extension if one of them qualifies. If the qualified beneficiary is determined to no longer be disabled under the SSA, you must notify the Plan of that fact within 30 days after that determination.
An 18-month extension of coverage will be available to spouses and dependent children who elect continuation coverage if a second qualifying event occurs during the first 18 months of continuation coverage. The maximum amount of continuation coverage available when a second qualifying event occurs is 36 months. Such second qualifying events may include the death of a covered employee, divorce or legal separation from the covered employee, the covered employee’s becoming entitled to Medicare benefits (under Part A, Part B, or both), or a dependent child’s ceasing to be eligible for coverage as a dependent under the Plan. These events can be a second qualifying event only if they would have caused the qualified beneficiary to lose coverage under the Plan if the first qualifying event had not occurred. You must notify the Plan within 60 days after a second qualifying event occurs if you want to extend your continuation coverage.
To elect continuation coverage, you must complete the Election Form and furnish it according to the directions on the form. Each qualified beneficiary has a separate right to elect continuation coverage. For example, the employee’s spouse may elect continuation coverage even if the employee does not. Continuation coverage may be elected for only one, several, or for all dependent children who are qualified beneficiaries. A parent may elect to continue coverage on behalf of any dependent children. The employee or the employee's spouse can elect continuation coverage on behalf of all of the qualified beneficiaries.
In considering whether to elect continuation coverage, you should take into account that a failure to continue your group health coverage will affect your future rights under federal law. First, you can lose the right to avoid having preexisting condition exclusions applied to you by other group health plans if you have a 63-day gap in health coverage, and election of continuation coverage may help prevent such a gap. Second, you will lose the guaranteed right to purchase individual health coverage that does not impose a preexisting condition exclusion if you do not elect continuation coverage for the maximum time available to you. Finally, you should take into account that you have special enrollment rights under federal law. You have the right to request special enrollment in another group health plan for which you are otherwise eligible (such as a plan sponsored by your spouse’s employer) within 30 days after your group health coverage ends because of the qualifying event listed above. You will also have the same special enrollment right at the end of continuation coverage if you get continuation coverage for the maximum time available to you.
Generally, each qualified beneficiary may be required to pay the entire cost of continuation coverage. The amount a qualified beneficiary may be required to pay may not exceed 102 percent (or, in the case of an extension of continuation coverage due to a disability, 150 percent) of the cost to the group health plan (including both employer and employee contributions) for coverage of a similarly situated plan participant or beneficiary who is not receiving continuation coverage. The required payment for each continuation coverage period for each option is described in this notice.
There may be other coverage options for you and your family. When key parts of the health care law take effect, you’ll be able to buy coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. In the Marketplace, you could be eligible for a new kind of tax credit that lowers your monthly premiums right away, and you can see what your premium, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs will be before you make a decision to enroll. Being eligible for COBRA does not limit your eligibility for coverage for a tax credit through the Marketplace. Additionally, you may qualify for a special enrollment opportunity for another group health plan for which you are eligible (such as a spouse’s plan), even if the plan generally does not accept late enrollees, if you request enrollment within 30 days. Please contact your state’s Marketplace for more details.
First payment for continuation coverage
If you elect continuation coverage, you do not have to send any payment with the Election Form. However, you must make your first payment for continuation coverage not later than 45 days after the date of your election. (This is the date the Election Notice is post-marked, if mailed.) If you do not make your first payment for continuation coverage in full not later than 45 days after the date of your election, you will lose all continuation coverage rights under the Plan. You are responsible for making sure that the amount of your first payment is correct. You may contact Wolfpack Insurance Services, Inc to confirm the correct amount of your first payment or to discuss payment issues related to the ARRA premium reduction.
Periodic payments for continuation coverage
After you make your first payment for continuation coverage, you will be required to make periodic payments for each subsequent coverage period. The amount due for each coverage period for each qualified beneficiary is shown in the notice. The periodic payments can be made on a monthly basis. Under the Plan, each of these periodic payments for continuation coverage is due prior to the month of coverage. If you make a periodic payment on or before the first day of the coverage period to which it applies, your coverage under the Plan will continue for that coverage period without any break. The Plan will send monthly notices of payments due.
Grace periods for periodic payments
Although periodic payments are due on the dates shown above, you will be given a grace period of 30 days after the first day of the coverage period to make each periodic payment. Your continuation coverage will be provided for each coverage period as long as payment for that coverage period is made before the end of the grace period for that payment.
If you fail to make a periodic payment before the end of the grace period for that coverage period, you will lose all rights to continuation coverage under the Plan.
Your first payment and all periodic payments for continuation coverage should be sent to:
Wolfpack Insurance Services PO Box 833 Belmont CA 94002
Private sector employees seeking more information about rights under ERISA, including COBRA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and other laws affecting group health plans, can contact the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) at 1-866-444-3272 or visit the EBSA website at www.dol.gov/ebsa. State and local government employees should contact HHS-CMS at www.cms.hhs.gov/COBRAContinuationofCov/ or NewCobraRights@cms.hhs.gov.
Keep Your Plan Informed of Address Changes
In order to protect your and your family’s rights, you should keep the Plan Administrator informed of any changes in your address and the addresses of family members. You should also keep a copy, for your records, of any notices you send to the Plan Administrator.
If you have any questions about this notice or your rights to COBRA continuation coverage, you should contact Wolfpack Insurance Services, Inc. 800-296-0192