COBRA continuation coverage is not automatically extended to a qualified beneficiary; he or she must affirmatively elect such coverage.
A qualified beneficiary has 60 days to elect COBRA coverage after the date that plan coverage terminates, or if later, 60 days after the date of the Election Notice to the qualified beneficiary from the Plan Administrator.200
When the date of the Election Notice is given later than the date coverage ends, the general rule is that the 60-day notice period starts to run from the date the Election Notice is “sent,” although at least one court case held that the period does not begin to run until the qualified beneficiary actually receives the Election Notice.201 Remember that each qualified beneficiary has a separate right to elect COBRA among the different types of coverage he or she had prior to the qualifying event.202 The covered employee or spouse may elect the COBRA continuation coverage for other qualified beneficiaries, although a spouse may not decline coverage on behalf of the other spouse.203
CREDITS: This is an excerpt from An Employer’s Guide to Employment Issues in Minnesota, provided by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development & Linquist & Vennum P.L.L.P., Tenth Edition, 2009. Copies are available without charge from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Small Business Assistance Office.
This post is also part of a series of posts covering the Continuation of Group Health and Life Insurance Coverage Law (COBRA). This information is not legal advice. You should consult with an experienced employment attorney before dealing with COBRA-related employment issues.
200 29 U.S.C. § 1165(a)(1); 26 U.S.C. § 4980B(f)(5); 42 U.S.C. §300bb-5(a)(1).
201 Kerr v. Chicago Transit Auth., 1998 WL 89137 (N.D. Ill. 1998).
202 29 U.S.C. § 1165(a)(2); 26 U.S.C. §4980B(f)(5)(B); 42 U.S.C. §300bb-5(a)(2).
203 Treas. Reg. § 54.4980B-6, Q/A-6.