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Can I receive COBRA benefits while on leave under the Family Medical Leave Act?

There is no need to! This is one of the big benefits of FMLA-- an employee can take the necessary time off without worry about a change in their medical benefits. The FMLA requires an employer to maintain coverage under any group health plan for an employee on FMLA leave under the same conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued working. Consequently, the employer must continue to pay the employer’s share of the coverage the employee has been receiving and the employee still continues to pay his or her share as they had been before the FMLA leave began.

Coverage provided under the FMLA is not COBRA coverage and does not begin the COBRA time period (i.e. 18 months) and FMLA leave is not a qualifying event under COBRA.

Example: Shirley obtains 12 weeks of FMLA leave in order to undergo treatment. During her FMLA leave, her employer-sponsored health insurance will continue to be paid as if she were still working. After Shirley's 12 weeks of FMLA leave are exhausted, she decides to resign. At that point, Shirley would be eligible to obtain COBRA continuation coverage for 18 months due to her termination of employment.

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