The HR department is best known for hiring, firing, & as the source for benefits. While it's not the area of HR that interests me the most, given that layoffs & joblessness are becoming a commonplace phenomenon & some people are experiencing it for the very first time in their lives, there are lots of questions & serious concerns beyond " 'just' where is my next paycheck going to come from." Usually the next big concern is health coverage. As a result I thought this would be a good time to run through the basics of COBRA [I am not referring to the snake]. Most employers large & small know about it & so should you. COBRA is an acronym, which stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act. This is a law created by Congress requiring employers to provide former employees, spouses, & their children healthcare coverage at group rates for at least an additional 18 months [sometimes more] but not everyone qualifies.
Who is Eligible For COBRA Coverage
You are qualified for COBRA coverage if:
--You've been terminated;
--Your hours have been reduced suddenly making you ineligible for coverage;
--Death of an employee [making the family eligible for coverage];
--Divorce or legal separation;
--Losing status as a dependent.
Important notice: In the case of termination or reduction in work hours, it is the responsibility of the employer to notify you of your rights. However in the other instances it is up to the employee or a family member to contact the relevant health plan
*There have also been some changes in the law to reflect these unusual times but I will cover some of the new addtions in a separate post.
Note: This post was originally written before the passage of Affordable Care Act. Although every attempt has been made to provide accurate information, nothing in this post is meant to replace, be construed, or should be taken as "legal advice." If you have any questions or concerns, it is always best to first seek the advice of your HR department. Beyond that it is best to consult legal counsel before taking any action.