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Senior COBRA health insurance - California

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If you have either federal COBRA or Cal-COBRA and your time period for coverage is about to be used up, you should check to see if you are eligible for an extension of your COBRA benefits under what is commonly called "Senior COBRA." Senior COBRA is provided for under state law.

Who May Enroll in Senior COBRA

A former employee who was at least 60 years old at the time employment ended, and who had worked for the employer for at least five years, may be eligible for Senior COBRA. The former employee's spouse, and any former spouse, may also continue coverage.

Who May Not Enroll in Senior COBRA

You are not eligible for Senior COBRA if you are one of the following:

  • A former employee whose employment ended because of gross misconduct.
  • Eligible for Medicare
  • Sixty-five years old or older
  • Someone covered by another group health plan
  • Someone who did not choose COBRA when it was available to you
  • Someone who fails to choose Senior COBRA in writing when it is available
  • Someone whose allowed eligibility period has been used up

Benefits Under Senior COBRA

Anyone covered under Senior COBRA continues the same basic health care benefits as were available under federal COBRA or Cal-COBRA. No restrictions based on pre-existing conditions are allowed. Specialized health care service plans, such as dental or vision plans, are not required to offer Senior COBRA

Choosing to Have Senior COBRA

As the end of your COBRA or Cal-COBRA approaches, your employer or the health plan must notify you of the availability of Senior COBRA. (Note: If you are eligible to extend COBRA under Cal-COBRA for up to 36 months of continuous coverage, the notification will occur at the end of Cal-COBRA.) You must notify the health plan, in writing, within 30 days of the end of your coverage that you wish to continue coverage under Senior COBRA.

The Time Period for Continuing Coverage under Senior COBRA

Benefits may last up to five years or until one of the following events occurs:

  • The individual turns 65
  • The individual becomes Medicare eligible
  • The individual does not pay premiums
  • The employer no longer offers health coverage to any active employees
Notice: We attempt to make descriptions of the law accurate as of the date of publication. However, the descriptions are only summaries and not definitive statements of law. Questions about the law's application to a particular case should be directed to an attorney. Complaints relating to coverage issues should be directed to the Department of Managed Health Care's toll-free number (888) HMO-2219


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