What happens when my COBRA benefits run out?
If the employer is fully-insured or provides coverage under a self-funded/self-insured government plan the group health plan provided is bound by both federal and Minnesota state law. Under the additional protections of Minnesota law, a person is able to convert his or her COBRA continuation coverage to an individual insurance policy with the same provider/insurance company that provided the group coverage without having to go through underwriting and without any pre-existing condition limitations or exclusions. An individual policy almost always costs more than a group policy; however, it is usually worth comparing an individual conversion policy with other individual insurance plans out on the market. Additionally, the resources of the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association may also be available.
If the employer is self-insured, they are only bound to follow the federal law and thus a person receiving COBRA benefits may not be able to convert his or her policy. However, if there has been coverage for a certain period of time, coverage through the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association may be possible when COBRA coverage ends. Additionally, if the participant is HIPAA eligible, he or she may be eligible for immediate (no pre-existing condition waiting period) MCHA coverage.
If one qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, then he or she is entitled to extend COBRA benefits for 29 months (or indefinitely under MN law), the ending of which will usually coincide with the requisite Medicare eligibility waiting period. As a result, he or she may then be able to obtain Medicare coverage.