The federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) permits employees to continue their group health coverage if they leave the group for certain specified reasons. Virginia law requires a group hospital, medical, surgical, and major medical policy to provide either 12 months' continuation or the right to convert to an individual policy at the option of the employer (VA Code Sec. 38.2-3541). The continuation option does not apply to employers covered by federal COBRA. According to federal law, when comparing state and federal continuation rights, employees may use the law that is most favorable to their situation.
If an employer chooses the continuation option, individuals who had been covered under the policy for the previous three months are eligible for 12 months of continuation if coverage ceases because of the termination of an individual's eligibility for coverage under a policy that remains in force.
The employer must provide each employee or other person covered under a group policy written notice of the availability of the option chosen and the procedures and time frames for obtaining continuation or conversion of the group policy. The notice must be provided within 14 days of the employer's knowledge of the employee's or other covered person's loss of eligibility under the policy.
The application and payment for the extended coverage must be made to the employer within 31 days after issuance of the written notice from the employer, but in no event beyond the 60-day period following the termination of the person's eligibility. Premiums must be paid to the employer on a monthly basis during the 12-month period.