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California State University, Long BeachCalifornia State University, Long Beach

Frequently Asked Questions About COBRA

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What is COBRA?

COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. It requires employers sponsoring group health plans with more than 20 employees offer eligible employees and their dependents the opportunity to continue health coverage for a period for up to 36 months. The purpose of this Act is to ensure access to health coverage for employees and their dependents who would otherwise lose group coverage under specified circumstances called "qualifying events."

What is the cost of participating in COBRA?

The cost for participation is determined by the health, dental and/or vision plan(s) chosen by the employee and the number of dependents to be covered. Generally, the cost is the full monthly premium of the health, dental and/or vision plans (employee and employer share), plus a 2% administrative fee.

Who is eligible?

Employees covered by a CSU health plan may continue coverage of group health, dental and/or vision plan(s) when they lose coverage due to:

  • a reduction in work hours, or
  • termination of employment (for reasons other than gross misconduct).

A spouse or domestic partner of an employee covered by a CSU health, dental and/or vision plan(s) may choose to enroll in COBRA if coverage is lost for any of the following reasons:

  1. The death of the employee;
  2. Termination of employee's employment or reduction in employee's work hours;
  3. Divorce, legal separation, or dissolution of domestic partnership from the employee;
  4. CalPERS non-compliance; or
  5. Employee becomes entitled to Medicare.

A dependent child of a covered employee may continue coverage of group health, dental and/or vision plan(s) is lost for any of the following reasons:

  1. The death of the parent (employee);
  2. The termination of the parent's employment or reduction in the parent's work hours with the CSU;
  3. The parents' divorce, legal separation, or dissolution of domestic partnership;
  4. CalPERS non-compliance;
  5. The parent (employee) becomes entitled to Medicare; or
  6. The dependent reaches age 26.
When does COBRA take effect?

COBRA provides continuous health care coverage, provided that the employee elects to participate, completes the enrollment process, and continues paying premiums to the insurance carrier.

How long does COBRA coverage last?

COBRA coverage for employees extends for 18 months. Covered spouses, domestic partners, and/or dependent child(ren) are eligible for continued coverage for a maximum of 36 months.

How does an employee apply for COBRA?

Benefits Services sends a COBRA Continuation Coverage Election Notice to all eligible employees upon separation from the university. Instructions and timelines are included in this notice.

Where does a separating employee send their COBRA premiums?

COBRA premiums are sent directly to the insurance carrier(s).

Why would an employee participate in COBRA?

COBRA can help ensure short-term coverage for employees and/or their dependents who would otherwise lose health, dental and/or vision insurance.

If I am not offered an instructional appointment for the upcoming semester (or subsequent semester), what are my options for continuing health coverage?

You have three options:

  1. You may participate in COBRA.
  2. COBRA Continuation Coverage Election Notice will be sent to your home address within 14 days of your separation.

  3. If you are eligible, you may retire.
  4. If you are age 50 or older and have at least five years of CalPERS service credit, you are eligible to retire. If so, you must retire within 120 days of your separation date from the university to be eligible for health benefits in retirement. If you have questions relating to retirement, please contact Nikco Moore, Benefits Manager at nikco.moore@csulb.edu or at 562-985-2120. You may also contact CalPERS at 888-225-7377.

  5. You may elect to procure private health insurance.
If I am offered an instructional appointment that does not qualify me for health benefits, what are my options for continuing health coverage?

You have three options:

  1. You may participate in COBRA.
  2. COBRA Continuation Coverage Election Notice will be sent to your home address within 14 days of Benefits Services being notified of your time base change.

  3. If you are eligible, you may retire.
  4. If you are age 50 or older and have at least five years of CalPERS service credit, you are eligible to retire. If so, you must retire within 120 days of your separation date from the university to be eligible for health benefits in retirement. If you have questions relating to retirement, please contact Nikco Moore, Benefits Manager at nikco.moore@csulb.edu or at 562-985-2120. You may also contact CalPERS at 888-225-7377.

  5. You may elect to procure private health insurance.