Ohio State Continuation of Health Insurance “Mini-COBRA”

Blog, Compliance, Employee Benefits

Person holding a box showing that they are unemployed, with a binder that says Continuous Health Insurance Options with AUI logo bottom right.

State continuation, also known as state COBRA or “mini-COBRA”, refers to programs that allow employees and their dependents to continue with group health insurance coverage when they lose their job-based insurance.

These programs are like the federal COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) but are specific to the state of Ohio. In this blog we are going do an overview of Federal COBRA and talk about “mini- COBRA” for the state of OHIO.

What is Federal COBRA Coverage

The federal COBRA allows employees to continue their health insurance coverage for a limited period (usually 18 to 36 months) after leaving their job. Here are the federal requirements that employers must meet for COBRA.  You can also read our blog on this subject for more details HERE.

  • Eligibility and Qualifying Events: COBRA applies to employers with 20 or more employees. Employees and their qualified beneficiaries may be eligible for COBRA if they experience a qualifying event, such as termination of employment, reduction in hours, divorce, or a dependent aging out of coverage.
  • Notification and Election: Employers are required to notify employees and their beneficiaries of their rights under COBRA within specific time frames. Individuals have 60 days to elect COBRA coverage after receiving the notification.
  • Coverage Period: COBRA coverage typically lasts for 18 to 36 months, depending on the qualifying event. For example, termination of employment generally grants 18 months of coverage, while other events like divorce or a dependent aging out may provide up to 36 months.
  • Premiums: Individuals electing COBRA coverage must pay the full premium for the health insurance, including the portion previously paid by the employer. Employers are not required to subsidize COBRA premiums.
  • Notification of Changes: Employers must notify the plan administrator of any qualifying events, within 30 days of the event. Employees and beneficiaries must be informed of changes in their COBRA rights, including termination of coverage.
  • Enforcement and Penalties: Failure to comply with COBRA requirements can result in penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Department of Labor (DOL).

How is State Continuation “Mini-COBRA” Different from Federal Coverage?

State continuation programs vary by state in terms of eligibility criteria, coverage duration, and other specifics. It’s important to check with your state’s insurance department or relevant authority to understand the details of the state continuation options available to you.

Mini COBRA coverage shown by COBRA symbol and a calendarWhat is Ohio’s “Mini-COBRA” Continuation Coverage? 

COBRA is a federal law that generally applies to employers with 20 or more employees.  What happens if you work for a small business in Ohio? In the state of Ohio employers must follow state regulations for continuation of coverage.  Ohio has a state continuation coverage law also known as “mini-COBRA.” passed in 2021.

Through the mini-COBRA program small businesses with less than 20 employees working the previous calendar year now have options for continuation coverage through Ohio’s “mini-COBRA” program.  Preventing a gap in health care coverage for the unemployed. Read more on the Ohio program HERE.

However, there are some stipulations to qualify.  For instance, you must have been involuntarily terminated, and not have access to other health insurance coverage from Medicare, or spousal coverage. Mini-COBRA coverage will only cover an unemployed person for up to 12 months. In addition, it does not cover dental or vision plans.

It is important to note that employer’s plan will not have both COBRA and Ohio continuation mini-COBRA coverage. It will have one or the other.

How Can AUI Help?

Ohio COBRA provides eligible employees and their dependents the opportunity to continue health insurance coverage when needed. It is important for employers to familiarize themselves with the specific COBRA requirements, our team is also here to help. AUI can walk you through the guidelines to ensure compliance as an employer. We can also help your employees understand their rights to obtain COBRA coverage.

Additionally, consulting legal or HR professionals like our sister company ClarityHR can help employers ensure they are up-to-date and accurate information is advisable. Contact AUI today with questions or concerns on COBRA.

We do more than cover small businesses and individuals with the right insurance policies and benefit plans – what motivates our team is helping you save more so you can invest more in your team, family, and goals.

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