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Bureau of Insurance
OTHER PFR AGENCIES
COBRA & Mini-COBRA FAQs (updated 1/25/2012)
The following may help to answer some of your questions about COBRA and mini-COBRA.
QUESTION: I have been laid off from a small company with 10 workers. I know that federal continuation of health coverage requirements (COBRA) do not apply to my employer. Is there a law in Maine that allows me to continue my job based health insurance coverage?
Under the mini-COBRA law insurers are permitted to require up to six months of employment before the layoff and to require the employee to elect coverage within 31 days of the layoff. There are additional requirements for dependent continuation coverage.
1 "Mini-COBRA” / YES: If a domestic partner is covered as a dependent under a small group insurance plan, he or she is entitled to "mini-COBRA" continuation coverage in the same manner as any other dependent. Small group health insurance carriers that provide health insurance for companies with fewer than 20 employees are required to offer continuation coverage under Maine's continuation law. (Although this law is sometimes referred to as the Maine "mini-COBRA" law, you should be aware that there are significant differences between Maine and federal laws.)
QUESTION: Is continuation coverage available for the domestic partner if the employee does not choose to be covered?
1. "Mini-COBRA” / YES: Maine law entitles the employee to buy continuation coverage for either the employee, the employee and dependent(s), or only the dependent(s). However, it is the employee, not the dependent, who makes this choice.
2. COBRA / NO: The U.S. Department of Labor has advised that if the employee does not buy COBRA coverage for himself or herself, the domestic partner is not entitled to coverage because domestic partners are not defined as “qualified beneficiaries” under COBRA. (However, you should also review your health plan and check with your employer to determine if your plan provides more rights for domestic partners than the law requires, including an independent right to buy continuation coverage.)
QUESTION: Are federal subsidies available for domestic partner COBRA or “mini-COBRA” coverage?
ANSWER: NO. Because a domestic partner is not a “qualified beneficiary” under COBRA, the subsidy will not apply to the domestic partner’s share of the premium.
Last Updated: August 22, 2012
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