The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Eligilibility for COBRA Coverage

Reference Number: MTAS-1550
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: May 22, 2017
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To be eligible for COBRA continuation coverage, a qualified beneficiary must be enrolled in the employer’s group health plan on the day before the qualifying event takes place. Simply stated, if a person is not enrolled in a plan, there is no coverage to lose. But once a person is a qualified beneficiary, he or she may be able to enroll previously non-covered individuals. A “qualified beneficiary” can be one of the following:

  • A “covered employee” defined as a current or former employee (including self-employed& persons, independent contractors and other nontraditional employees) covered under a group health plan
  • The spouse of a covered employee
  • The dependent child of a covered employee

Two groups of people who can never be qualified beneficiaries are (1) non-resident aliens with no U.S. source of income and (2) individuals who are not otherwise qualified beneficiaries who become covered under a group health plan because of another qualified beneficiary’s election. Any relative of these non-resident aliens also is not a qualified beneficiary solely because of the relationship to the non-resident alien.