One of the most important benefits that an employee can have when working is health coverage. The ongoing debate in government as to how health benefits will be dealt with hammers home the point as to how much of a hot button issue this is. Union members should be aware of certain aspects of their rights under labor law when it comes to health coverage. One such aspect is the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1986, known under the acronym “COBRA.”
COBRA is a law that lets those who leave a job retain their health insurance. For those who have left a job with a group health plan, it is possible to retain coverage through COBRA by paying for the insurance. This program is available for individuals and families who will lose their health coverage they had received through work. There are several reasons why a person might lose their health insurance coverage including: being dismissed from the job, leaving the job, being laid off from the job, a covered employee dying, a reduction in hours, and divorce.
Employees might not be aware of their right to COBRA. The employer or the benefits administrator must inform the worker of the right to retain health coverage. There are forms that must be filled out to apply. In general, this must be chosen within 60 days of having been told that the worker is eligible for the program.
Unions are meant to protect workers from being deprived of certain benefits they are entitled to. COBRA is one such benefit. If there is a problem with the employer not informing a worker who is leaving a job or falls into any of the above-listed categories for being eligible for COBRA, a legal professional can help. Employee benefits are a right that workers need to know they can count on. With the litany of problems that can arise when losing health insurance, it is imperative to have an attorney protect the rights of union members when it comes to COBRA.
Source: 1.nyc.gov, “COBRA,” accessed on July 18, 2017