Both New Hampshire 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 apply the law that is most favorable to their situation. Continuation rights under New Hampshire law in most circumstances are similar to those provided by federal COBRA. New Hampshire's continuation laws provide for unlimited continuation for divorced or surviving spouses over the age of 55 and cover small employers not covered by federal COBRA. In addition, New Hampshire law provides for 39 weeks' continuation upon plan termination.
New Hampshire's continuation requirements apply to New Hampshire residents who are covered by any group hospital, surgical, medical insurance plan, dental insurance plan, or health maintenance organization, except short-term student insurance where the policyholder is the school and small employer plans that only cover one individual (N.H. Rev. Stat. Sec. 415:18). The state law thus covers employers with from two to 19 employees who are not covered by federal COBRA. Many of the state requirements are exactly the same as under federal COBRA. The state law provides for continuation in the following circumstances that is equivalent to federal COBRA coverage:
• 18 months for an employee and his or her covered spouse and dependents if coverage would otherwise end due to termination of employment (other than for gross misconduct) or a reduction of hours;
• 29 months for an individual who is determined to be disabled for purposes of Social Security during the first ...