What is COBRA?
The term COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. This act mandates that most employers offer continuation group health insurance to plan participants and certain family members at group rates in situations where coverage would otherwise end.
Who is eligible for COBRA?
All employees and their dependents who had health insurance through the University as a result of employment are eligible. This includes employed students and their dependents with an RA or TA position, house staff/fellows and their dependents, post doctoral scholars/fellows and certain temporary staff. COBRA is not available to the domestic partners of merit staff.
How long does my COBRA last?
An employee and their dependents are eligible to carry COBRA for up to 18 months. If it is found that you are disabled, you are eligible to extend the COBRA plan for up to 29 months. Dependents coming off the plan are eligible for up to 36 months (due to a divorce, no longer qualifying as a dependent, or death of policy holder).
How do I pay for COBRA
There are two options for paying for COBRA. You can opt to have it come out of a savings or checking account OR you may opt to be billed monthly. If paying by automatic deduction, the premium will come out of the account the first working day of the month. If paying by bill, you will receive a bill the first week of the month which will state the date payment is due. COBRA coverage will be terminated due to nonpayment.
How do I receive COBRA information?
Once your termination or reduction in hours is in the University system you will receive information, or you may request it by contacting the Benefits Office. Please include your name, University employer ID number and the date of termination. For events other than termination or reduction in hours, you need to notify the Benefits Office so information can be sent to the affected dependent.
At what age does my dependent become ineligible to be on my employee plan?
The University of Iowa covers dependents until the end of the calendar year in which they turn 26 for Faculty/P&S/Merit Supervisory Exempt insurance UIGRADCare and SHIP (Student Health Insurance Plan) plans, and up to age 19 for Merit plans.
If they are a full-time student permanently disabled, they may remain on the policy regardless of age.
If they do not meet these criteria, they may remain on Merit plans through the end of the year in which they turn 25, if they live in the state of Iowa.
Check the University Benefits Office website for more information on adult child coverage for: Faculty, P&S, or Merit Supervisory Exempt Staff, or, Merit Staff.
Dependents of Faculty and P&S staff can be married as long as they meet the criteria above. The spouse and children of the married dependent are ineligible for coverage.
May I change the plan I am on when enrolling in COBRA?
Yes, you are eligible to change plans when enrolling in COBRA and again during open enrollment, which is held at the same time as open enrollment for active employees. You must remain within the group of plans offered to active employees in the classification you were in while employed by the University.
May I add dependents when taking COBRA?
Only the dependents covered at the time of the event are allowed to be covered under COBRA. The exceptions to this rule are in the event of marriage, birth or adoption. Only those affected by the event may be added at that time.
Can there be a lapse in coverage with COBRA?
Can I cover my spouse, domestic partner or dependent under COBRA and not myself?
Yes, you may cover just your spouse/domestic partner/dependent, but they are only eligible for 18 months. There is no COBRA coverage for Merit domestic partners.
What do I do after I have exhausted my full term of COBRA?
You need to contact a local insurance provider to pick up coverage in the state that you reside.
Will my Managed Care Plan work out of state under COBRA?
The GRADCare, Blue Advantage and Blue Access plans will cover you in the event of an emergency. They will not cover anything routine, such as physicals. You need to contact BlueCross and BlueShield at the number on your ID card or go to www.wellmark.com to get a listing of providers in the area for other types of medical care. The UIChoice plan will cover you at either 60% or 90%, depending on the type of service provided.
Non-participating providers can bill you for the difference between what Blue Cross and Blue Shield will pay for service and what they charge for billing (balance billing). More information can be found in the health insurance section of the Benefits Office web site.
How long does one have to apply for COBRA after resigning or a COBRA event?
You have 60 days from the last day of coverage to pick up COBRA.
How do I cancel COBRA coverage?
COBRA terminations must be in writing. You can send it through U.S./campus mail or via e-mail. Include your name, SS# and the date you wish to have the coverage terminated. Coverage will be cancelled the first of the month after receiving the termination notice, or the current month, if requested.
Updated April 2007