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Effectively managing COBRA coverage questions

COBRA coverage questions answered

What is the best way to broach the topic of COBRA coverage and keep your employee (or former employee) in the room? Despite the bad rap COBRA gets, it’s not all bad.

As a reminder, COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Under COBRA, covered individuals must be offered continuation coverage when coverage would otherwise be lost because of certain Qualifying Events. Additionally, coverage must be offered to the spouses, former spouses and dependent children of the covered individual.

For many, COBRA can seem like a bear they have to wrestle. Administrators, like Benefit Resource (BRI), should be the first line of defense. However, to smooth the process, employers must be equipped to answer to these three COBRA coverage FAQs.

COBRA Coverage FAQs

1. Election

The first questions covered individuals will have is “How do I elect COBRA?”

When an individual becomes eligible for COBRA, he or she receives an initial mailing containing key information regarding their COBRA rights, premium amounts and deadlines to enroll. The initial notice is called the COBRA Specific Rights Notice.

After employees receive the COBRA Specific Rights Notice, they have 60 days from the envelope postmark to elect COBRA coverage. This means they must fill out the election form and return it to BRI. Once the election form is received, BRI issues the participant a coupon book outlining the next 12 months of premiums and any insurance forms (if required). Participants will have an additional 45 days from the date of election to make their first premium payment. Premium payments are retroactive to the date of loss of coverage. Complete transparency at the time of the qualifying event can go a long way.

COBRA Coverage

2. Online Account Login

Once individuals are enrolled, the second question they have is often “How do I log into my account?”

In order to manage their ongoing COBRA coverage, participants should login to their online account. Accounts can easily be accessed at cobra.benefitresource.com. The new user registration is completed in three easy steps. Finally, for assistance with first time logins (or anything COBRA related), individuals can call BRI Participant Services at 866-996-5200.

Account management for employers

To manage qualifying events, access administration resources, billing information and other details, you can login through the BRiWeb portal. The single-sign-on feature allows you to seamlessly navigate between the BRiWeb portal and cobra.benefitresource.com.

3. Status of Enrollment Coverage with Insurance Carriers

Timing is everything.

Especially when it comes to COBRA coverage.

The third question individuals may have is “Am I covered?”

As participants move further down the COBRA coverage funnel, they will sometimes encounter an issue with the status of their enrollment coverage with insurance carriers. This occurs when an insurance carrier is still processing the enrollment. At this point, your COBRA Administrator should be contacted and can work with the carrier to fix the participants account or expedite a request.

What you can do

When individuals sign up for COBRA coverage, provide as much information on timelines as possible. Individuals often think that their coverage is reinstated immediately. However, the insurance carriers can take a week or longer to process an enrollment or other information. To ease the transition, bring up caveats or common issues, like “delays” with insurance carriers. If covered individuals have expectations ahead of time about how long processes will take, they will have fewer questions for you.

Personal Service for Covered Individuals and Employers

Regardless of how much information you give individuals, questions are inevitable. COBRA coverage is often linked to stressful times in life.  And the covered individuals might not be the only ones with questions.

As you work to help them move to the next phase of coverage, you might need help or have questions, too. That’s where BRI COBRA Administration comes in. Benefit Resource provides high-touch personal COBRA services to simplify compliance while being sensitive to employees.

If you have questions about account management (including effectively managing COBRA coverage questions), reach out to your assigned Account Executive today.