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What If You Decline COBRA Continuation Coverage But Change Your Mind?

You have 60 days from the date your work is terminated or there is another Qualifying Event to change your mind and accept COBRA.

Once the 60 days expire, you lose the right to COBRA.

COBRA And The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows an employee for a large employer to unpaid leave from work for up to 12 weeks because of the employee's medical condition or to care for a family member.

Under the FMLA, an employer must maintain coverage under any group health plan for an employee on FMLA leave under the same conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued working.

  • Coverage provided under the FMLA is not COBRA coverage.
  • FMLA leave is not a qualifying event under COBRA so FMLA does not trigger any rights under COBRA.

However, a COBRA qualifying event may occur when an employer's obligation to maintain health insurance benefits under FMLA stops. For example, COBRA rights start if and when an employee notifies an employer of his or her intent not to return to work.

For more information, see Family And Medical Leave Act.

COBRA and Medicare

Covered Employee:

If you become eligible for COBRA after you become eligible for Medicare, you may keep them both. For example, if you work past age 65, start Medicare at 65, then stop working at age 67, and you become eligible for 18 months of COBRA because you stop working.

However, if you have COBRA and then become eligible for Medicare, your right to COBRA ends.

Is it worth keeping both health coverages? See Keep Private Insurance In Addition To Medicare?

Spouse and Dependent Children:

When a covered employee receiving health insurance continuation under COBRA becomes entitled to Medicare benefits and no longer qualifies for the group plan, it becomes a "Qualifying Event" permitting the spouse and dependent children to continue their health insurance coverage.

Can A Child Born or Adopted During The Period of COBRA Extension Be Covered By COBRA?

Yes. A child born to or adopted by a covered employee during a COBRA extension is considered to be a qualified beneficiary.

Can A Spouse Continue COBRA When The Insured Switches To Medicare?

Yes. When the employee who qualified for COBRA ceases to be covered because he or she switches to Medicare, the spouse can continue coverage for another 18 months.

Another 18 months? Yes. The spouse's enrollment in Medicare is considered to be a "qualifying event" which starts the 18 months running for the other spouse.

Once the second spouse becomes eligible for Medicare, COBRA ends.

Where Can I Get More Information About COBRA?

For more information, call EBSA toll-Free number, 866.444.EBSA (3272) or contact your local office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor. You can find the contact information for the office nearest you at offsite link

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