COBRA Guidelines

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) gives employees and their families who lose their health benefits, the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their employer for a limited period of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss (not for cause), reduction in hours, transition between jobs, death, divorce or other qualifying life events. 

If your loss of coverage qualifies for such COBRA coverage, you should be aware of the following general guidelines.

  • You are responsible for notifying Barnes within 30 days of the qualifying event. This will ensure that you can make applicable coverage changes to your benefit plans at the appropriate coverage levels.

  • If you (or your covered dependents) were covered at the time of the qualifying event, COBRA will be offered for the following plans: Health, Dental, Vision and Flexible Spending Accounts.

  • Our benefits administrator, MMA East, will mail a COBRA enrollment package, within 14 calendar days of notification, to the last known address on record. In the case of a dependent, this will be the address of the employee, unless you have provided a separate address for the dependent.

  • Generally coverage can be extended for up to 18 months in the case of a loss of your employment, and 36 months in the case of a divorce or loss of dependent status. Measurement is made from the date coverage is lost. COBRA coverage must be terminated if you obtain coverage under another group health plan or Medicare prior to reaching the end of the 18- or 36-month period.

  • You must enroll in the same option you had before you lost coverage. A change in options may be made during the Open Enrollment period in the Fall, to be effective the following January 1.

  • The monthly premium will be 102% of the entire cost of such coverage.

  • When you receive the enrollment information, there is a 60 day limit to respond to MMA East (COBRA Administrator) to elect coverage. If coverage is elected, MMA East must receive payment within 30 days of the election. The payment must be sufficient to cover the entire period retroactive back to the date of loss of coverage up to, and including, an advance payment for the upcoming month. Therefore, the first payment will likely be a multiple of two or more months of premiums.

  • Regular benefits coverage under the Barnes health plans ceases as of the day of the qualifying event, and will not be reinstated until the COBRA Administrator receives both a proper election and sufficient premium payment. If a health care provider calls to verify coverage prior to receipt of the election and payment, they will be told that coverage has been terminated, and any claims incurred during this period will be rejected. However, once the COBRA Administrator receives the election and payment, coverage will be reinstated retroactively to the qualifying date, and any rejected claims can be then be resubmitted for processing.

  • There are certain ways to expedite the election process, so that the COBRA Administrator can verify coverage and claims can be processed sooner. When you receive the election packet, review it immediately and contact them if there are questions. You can:
    • Return the election form to MMA East immediately; or
    • Return a check for the required amount at the same time you return the election form, instead of waiting for an invoice after they have received the election.

  • Payment for subsequent months must be received by the COBRA Administrator within the time frames stated on their invoices. Late payment will be cause for termination of coverage.

  • If MMA East does not receive your election and payment within 60 days of the qualifying event, COBRA will not be offered.

NOTE: This document is merely meant to describe the COBRA process, and is not intended to be your official COBRA election package. If there is any discrepancy between this document and the official COBRA regulations as described in the respective plan documents, the official regulations will prevail.

No portion of this benefits summary is intended to change the terms of the plans and policies, or the official texts that control them. If there is any inconsistency between this summary and the official texts of the plans and policies, the official texts will prevail.