Massachusetts COBRA (Health Insurance Continuation) laws & HR compliance analysis

Massachusetts COBRA (Health Insurance Continuation): What you need to know

Both Massachusetts law and the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) permit employees to continue their group health coverage if they leave the group for certain specified reasons. According to federal law, when comparing state and federal continuation rights, employees may use the law that is more favorable to their situation.
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The Massachusetts small group continuation of coverage law, Mini-COBRA, requires small group carriers to provide for the continuation of health benefits to employees of small businesses with two to 19 employees (Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 176J Sec. 9). The Mini-COBRA law requires small group health carriers to provide continuation of coverage benefits, which are similar to those required by the federal COBRA, and allows employees and their family members to continue coverage in their small group “health benefit plan” and pay group rates for certain time periods under circumstances where they previously would have lost coverage.
The Mini-COBRA law does not apply to every type of insurance and has quite a few exclusions (e.g., disability income insurance) (Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 176J Sec. 1).
Mini-COBRA benefits must be provided to so-called qualified beneficiaries who lose coverage upon the occurrence of a qualifying event that results in the individual losing coverage (Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 176J Sec. 9). Qualified beneficiaries are generally individuals who are covered under a small group health benefit plan on the day before the qualifying event. Qualified beneficiaries can be an employee, the spouse of an employee, and/or the dependent child of an employee.
The type of qualifying event determines who is ...

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