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EMPLOYMENT LAW GUIDE: - page 27 / 134





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retirees, spouses, former spouses and dependent children may elect temporary continuation

of their health insurance coverage at the employer’s group rate. Individuals who qualify

under COBRA are required to pay the entire premium for coverage and may be charged a 2%

administrative fee each month. Group health plans for employers with 20 or more employees

are subject to COBRA. Employers of less than 20 employees are covered by the state “mini”

COBRA statute, the Small Group Health Insurance Act, Mass. Gen. L. c. 176J, § 9, which is

very similar to the federal COBRA law.

The typical COBRA beneficiary is usually eligible for group coverage during a

maximum of 18 months for qualifying events such as employment termination or reduction

in hours. Other qualifying events, or a second qualifying event during the initial coverage

period, may permit the beneficiary to receive coverage for a maximum of 36 months.

When a qualifying event occurs, the health plan administrator must provide a

COBRA notice to the employee and any covered beneficiaries regarding their rights to elect

COBRA coverage. Employers are required to notify their plan administrators within 30 days

after an employee’s termination or reduction in hours that causes the employee to lose health

benefits. Thereafter, the plan administrator is required to provide notice to individual

employees of their right to elect COBRA within 14 days after the plan administrator receives

notice from the employer of the qualifying event.

The Department of Labor has issued regulations that provide detailed information

regarding COBRA’s notice and election requirements, as well as a model election form that

may be sent to employees. The form may be found on the Department of Labor website:

www.dol.gov. The employer may choose to use its own form; however, the form must


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