Under a federal law known as COBRA and Minnesota state law, an employee, spouse, or other covered dependent who experiences a qualifying event has the right to continue health coverage, dental coverage, and/or life insurance through Hennepin County’s group insurance program. The duration of continuation coverage is determined by the qualifying event.
Qualifying events and duration of coverage
- Termination of employment — The employee (and his/her dependents, if covered) may continue coverage for up to 18 months.
- Reduction in work hours below benefit-earning status — The employee (and his/her dependents, if covered) may continue coverage for up to 18 months.
- Dependent loses eligibility as a dependent (examples) — The dependent may continue coverage for up to 36 months.
- Divorce or legal separation — The covered spouse and dependent children may continue coverage until they become covered under another group plan or Medicare, whichever occurs first.
- Death — Covered family members may continue health and/or dental coverage for a period determined by the deceased employee’s age. Contact Benefits for details.
Continuation coverage available to qualified beneficiaries
- Benefit-earning employees
- Dependents covered under the employee’s health and/or dental policy if the coverage is in force at the time of the qualifying event
Payments for the benefit(s) you elect to continue (e.g., health, dental, life insurance and/or flexible spending account) are collected and processed by 121 Benefits.
When is 121 Benefits required to send notice?
121 Benefits automatically issues an offer to continue coverage to employees who terminate their employment or reduce their work hours below benefit-earning status. The offer is mailed to the employee’s address listed in the APEX system.
When is the employee or dependent required to send notice?
The employee or dependent is required to send notice when the dependent loses eligibility for dependent coverage. Submit the family status change form (DOC) within 30 days of the change. The notice must be in writing — no verbal notifications or emails are accepted.
Dependents lose eligibility when:
- Child attains age 26
- Divorce or legal separation
Dependent coverage terminates at the end of the month in which the event occurs (i.e., 26th birthday, date of divorce).
The qualified beneficiary has 60 days to elect to continue coverage. This 60-day election period begins on the date of loss of coverage OR the date of 121 Benefit’s continuation offer, whichever is later. If continuation coverage is elected, there cannot be a gap in coverage; therefore, continuation premiums are required back to the date of loss of coverage.
Note — If continuation coverage is not elected within the 60-day election period, continuation rights are forfeited.
If the qualified beneficiary elects continuation coverage, he/she has 45 days from the date of election to pay all continuation premiums due retroactive to the date of loss of coverage. Continuation coverage, however, will not be activated until premiums are paid.
Payment of premiums
Detailed payment instructions and deadlines are provided at the time continuation coverage is offered. In summary, continuation coverage is not activated until initial premiums are paid. Thereafter, premiums must be submitted to 121 Benefits by the first of each month to provide coverage for that month. You will have a 30-day grace period each month to remit your premium for that month's coverage. In the event 121 Benefits does not receive the required premium, continuation coverage is terminated and continuation rights are forfeited.
Continuation coverage is terminated if any of the following events occur:
- Failure to pay premium in full on time
- The qualified beneficiary becomes covered under another group plan that does not impose any pre-existing condition exclusion for a pre-existing condition
- The qualified beneficiary is determined, either by the county or the applicable plan, to be ineligible for continuation coverage (fraud)
- The qualified beneficiary becomes covered under Medicare (Part A, Part B, or both)
- The qualified beneficiary requests termination of continuation coverage
- Hennepin County terminates the applicable benefit for all of its employees
When a qualified beneficiary is no longer eligible for continuation coverage through Hennepin County's group insurance program, conversion coverage (health coverage and life insurance only), is available. Conversion coverage does not require satisfactory evidence of insurability if application is made no later than 30 days following the date continuation coverage terminates. Information about conversion coverage (cost, benefits, application procedure) must be obtained directly from the health and/or life insurance plan.