What is COBRA?
COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. It allows you and/or your dependents to keep your health and/or dental coverage under the Texas Employees Group Benefits Program (GBP) for a certain period of time after you leave employment. This is called "COBRA continuation coverage."
COBRA continuation coverage is limited to the medical and dental benefits you have when you leave employment. If you choose COBRA continuation coverage, you will pay the full cost of your premium(s) plus a 2% administrative fee. After you leave employment, ERS will send you a COBRA Notification, election form, rate sheet, and instructions for paying your premiums.
Can I continue my insurance after my employment ends?
Yes. COBRA gives employees and/or their dependents the right to temporarily continue health and dental insurance. Insurance under COBRA is available only when insurance ends because of certain life events, such as when your employment ends.
If you terminate and/or retire before age 65, you may be eligible for up to 18 months of COBRA coverage. In addition, some retirees and their dependents could be eligible for GBP Interim Insurance until age 65. Retirees are encouraged to utilize COBRA coverage first since the premiums for interim insurance are much higher than COBRA.
When can I enroll in COBRA?
Employees ending employment - Your health and dental coverage ends on the last day of the month in which your employment ends. You may be eligible to continue coverage under COBRA for a maximum of 18 months by paying your premiums directly to ERS. The form and payment must be postmarked no later than 105 days from the date of your employment ending.
Dependents of employees ending employment - Health and dental coverage ends on the last day of the month in which the employee's employment ends. Dependents may be eligible to continue coverage under COBRA for a maximum of 18 months if the dependent lost GBP eligibility. The form and payment must be postmarked no later than 105 days from
the date of the employee's employment ending.
How do I elect Retiree COBRA?
Upon retiring, you must complete and return a Retiree COBRA Election Form along with the appropriate premium payment to elect continuation of coverage under COBRA. This form, along with a COBRA Notification and a COBRA rate sheet are sent to you at the time your retirement is approved. The form and payment must be postmarked no later than 105 days from the date of retirement.
Once a completed Retiree COBRA Election Form and the appropriate premium payment are received by ERS, coverage will be reinstated retroactive to the date of retirement. You must contact ERS 30 days prior to turning age 65 to have medical coverage as a retiree. ERS does not send an additional notification.
How long can I keep COBRA coverage?
You and/or your dependents can continue insurance for up to 18 months after your employment ended as long as you:
- do not have other group health or dental insurance, or
- do not become eligible for Medicare.
An 18-month continuation period may be extended to 36 months if a secondary qualifying event occurs during the initial 18-month continuation coverage period (e.g. divorce, death or loss of dependent status). You are never entitled to more than 36 months of continuation coverage.
Can I keep or add dependents on my COBRA coverage?
Any eligible dependent who was covered on medical and/or dental insurance on the day that you ended employment has the right to continue coverage on his or her own. You do not have to continue insurance in order for your spouse or children to continue their insurance.
You can make some changes to your insurance during the Annual Enrollment period and/or you can add eligible dependents that you gain due to a qualifying life event (QLE), such as birth or marriage. You must inform ERS within 31 days of the event so that you can add the eligible dependent that you gained.