My husband just died and I was on his group health plan. What are my options for health insurance coverage?
UPDATED: Jan 26, 2012
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Asked January 26, 2012
The death of your husband does not automatically cancel your health insurance coverage. Even though he is no longer part of the group health plan, federal regulations prevent insurance companies from leaving his survivors without health coverage. You will need to look around for a new insurance plan, but you are still covered for a period of time while you do.
In 1996, Congress passed a law called the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act, or COBRA for short. The primary purpose of the law was to prevent individuals and families from immediately losing their coverage based solely on the continued employment of the primary policyholder. That includes such drastic reasons as the death of the primary policyholder. Under COBRA, you have the option of continuing your present coverage for up to 18 months, and the coverage can be extended for as much as 36 months under certain circumstances.
After your husband died, the insurance company is obligated to send you a COBRA information and elective form to fill out. You will have to pay the full cost of premiums, including any portion previously paid by your husband's employer, and there may a one-time administrative fee, but your coverage will not change as long as you take advantage of the COBRA provisions.
COBRA coverage will be more expensive, but it will cover you and your family while you look for a new group plan. To do that, try checking with organizations such as AARP and AAA or other groups you are a member of. Coverage through an organization will not be affected by future changes of employment and may even be policies that can follow you if you decide to move to another state.
Answered January 26, 2012 by Anonymous