COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Employers must offer terminating employees an opportunity to continue on with benefits plans offered during employment for at least 18 months, but potentially up to 36 months.
Employers have a responsibility to communicate with employees about their COBRA options and rights. The communication requirements are time sensitive.
Groups with 20 or more full time equivalent employees usually self administer their COBRA, or retain a qualified HR professional or TPA service.
Employer size is determined by counting full time employees and adding in part time fractional employees. For example, an employer with 19 full time and 4 half time employees could potentially be counted as an employer size of 21.
The DOL has prepared An Employers Guide to Group Health Continuation Coverage Under COBRA to assist employers in understanding their COBRA obligations.
In California, Cal-COBRA extends the COBRA requirements to employer group sizes from 2 to 19 and ensures COBRA rights are available for a total of 36 months, if not already available under COBRA rules.
Groups with less than 20 full time equivalent employees usually have their COBRA administration handled by the insurance company providing group benefits, but employers should carefully determine their group size and check with their insurance company to ensure there are no gaps in COBRA administration.
The California Department of Managed HealthCare provides detailed information on Cal-Cobra.