The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Duration of COBRA Coverage

Reference Number: MTAS-1536
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: June 03, 2016
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Qualifying events are those that cause the qualified beneficiary to lose coverage under the plan.

As shown in the following schedule, qualified beneficiaries generally can continue health coverage for up to 18 months for themselves and their families. In some cases, coverage is extended to 36 months. COBRA coverage can be terminated before these maximum periods if premiums are not paid on time or if the employer ceases to maintain a group health plan for its employees. Some plans allow COBRA participants to convert group health coverage to an individual policy when the COBRA continuation period ends. The option to enroll in a conversion health plan must be given at least 180 days before COBRA coverage ends and may vary by state and type of plan offered.

Qualifying Event Qualified Beneficiaries Maximum Period of Continuation
Termination (for reasons other than gross misconduct) Employee
Spouse
Dependent children
18 Months*
Employee enrollment in Medicare Spouse
Dependent children
36 Months
Divorce or legal separation Spouse
Dependent children
36 Months
Death of employee Spouse
Dependent children
36 Months
Loss of dependent child status under plan eligibility rules Dependent children 36 Months

* In certain circumstances QBs entitled to 18 months of COBRA may become entitled to a disability extension of 11 months (for a total maximum of 29 months) or an extension of 18 months due to the occurrence of a second qualifying event (for a total maximum of 36 months).

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