New York workers count health coverage as one of the most important benefits they consider when they take a job. Workers who lose health benefits can select from a group health plan for a certain time-period if the loss of those benefits was because of job loss, having their work hours reduced, switching from one job to another, and for other reasons. This is known as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). For those who meet the qualifications to get COBRA, it is important to remember certain facts about it. Two that are vital are the maximum periods for which the worker can be covered, and when early termination might happen. Union representation is key to ensuring members of the union have their COBRA benefits as they are entitled.
From the qualifying event, COBRA will be continuous for 18 or 36 months. It will depend on the event that facilitated the need for COBRA as to how long it will last. If there is a plan, there could be longer period for which the worker will be covered. If the qualifying event is the worker losing his or her job or having a reduction in hours, it will be limited to 18 months. If the qualifying event is the employment ending or the hours being reduced and the worker reached Medicare eligibility less than 18 months prior to the qualifying event, COBRA can last until 36 months from when Medicare entitlement began. Any other qualifying event will result in 36 months of coverage under COBRA.
The coverage can be terminated before the maximum amount of time for the following reasons: the premiums were not paid in full and when they were due; the employer no longer has group health coverage; a qualified beneficiary gets another form of health coverage after taking continuation; a qualified beneficiary becomes eligible for Medicare; or a qualified beneficiary takes part in conduct that can justify its termination. A worker whose COBRA is terminated early will receive a notice to that effect.
Unions expect their members to be protected with various employee benefits regardless of the situation. COBRA is one of the benefits that is frequently most important to workers and their families. If there is a union dispute over union members’ COBRA coverage for any reason, it is vital to have legal assistance to deal with it. A law firm that understands COBRA and specializes in union representation can help.