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

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

Both Minnesota 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 most favorable to their situation. Minnesota law covers all group insurance plans and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) providing benefits for hospital and medical expenses, regardless of how many employees the sponsoring employer has, but does not cover self-insured plans. Continuation rights in the event of a termination of employment are similar to those under federal law, but continuation rights for a spouse in the event of a divorce or the death of an employee are more extensive, lasting not just for 36 months but until the coverage would have otherwise ended.
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Minnesota's continuation requirements apply to all group insurance policies and healthcare plans, including HMOs that provide hospital and medical benefits, except those covering employees of an agency of the federal government (MN Stat. Sec. 62A.16).
Termination of employment. An employee who is voluntarily or involuntarily terminated or laid off from employment, if the policy or healthcare plan remains in force for active employees, must be allowed to elect to continue the coverage for the employee and his or her dependents for 18 months or until the employee becomes covered under another group health plan (MN Stat. Sec. 62A.17). Upon request by the terminated or laid-off employee, a health insurer must provide the instructions necessary to enable the employee to elect continuation of coverage.
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