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Legal Resources | Health and Safety Code |  HS  1366.24  

California COBRA Program   

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(a) Every health care service plan evidence of coverage, provided for group benefit plans subject to this article, that is issued, amended, or renewed on or after January 1, 1999, shall disclose to covered employees of group benefit plans subject to this article the ability to continue coverage pursuant to this article, as required by this section.

(b) This disclosure shall state that all enrollees who are eligible to be qualified beneficiaries, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 1366.21, shall be required, as a condition of receiving benefits pursuant to this article, to notify, in writing, the health care service plan, or the employer if the employer contracts to perform the administrative services as provided for in Section 1366.25, of all qualifying events as specified in paragraphs (1), (3), (4), and (5) of subdivision (d) of Section 1366.21 within 60 days of the date of the qualifying event. This disclosure shall inform enrollees that failure to make the notification to the health care service plan, or to the employer when under contract to provide the administrative services, within the required 60 days will disqualify the qualified beneficiary from receiving continuation coverage pursuant to this article. The disclosure shall further state that a qualified beneficiary who wishes to continue coverage under the group benefit plan pursuant to this article must request the continuation in writing and deliver the written request, by first-class mail, or other reliable means of delivery, including personal delivery, express mail, or private courier company, to the health care service plan, or to the employer if the plan has contracted with the employer for administrative services pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 1366.25, within the 60-day period following the later of (1) the date that the enrollee's coverage under the group benefit plan terminated or will terminate by reason of a qualifying event, or (2) the date the enrollee was sent notice pursuant to subdivision (e) of Section 1366.25 of the ability to continue coverage under the group benefit plan. The disclosure required by this section shall also state that a qualified beneficiary electing continuation shall pay to the health care service plan, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the plan contract, which shall be set forth in the notice to the qualified beneficiary pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 1366.25, the amount of the required premium payment, as set forth in Section 1366.26. The disclosure shall further require that the qualified beneficiary's first premium payment required to establish premium payment be delivered by first-class mail, certified mail, or other reliable means of delivery, including personal delivery, express mail, or private courier company, to the health care service plan, or to the employer if the employer has contracted with the plan to perform the administrative services pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 1366.25, within 45 days of the date the qualified beneficiary provided written notice to the health care service plan or the employer, if the employer has contracted to perform the administrative services, of the election to continue coverage in order for coverage to be continued under this article. This disclosure shall also state that the first premium payment must equal an amount sufficient to pay any required premiums and all premiums due, and that failure to submit the correct premium amount within the 45-day period will disqualify the qualified beneficiary from receiving continuation coverage pursuant to this article.

(c) The disclosure required by this section shall also describe separately how qualified beneficiaries whose continuation coverage terminates under a prior group benefit plan pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 1366.27 may continue their coverage for the balance of the period that the qualified beneficiary would have remained covered under the prior group benefit plan, including the requirements for election and payment. The disclosure shall clearly state that continuation coverage shall terminate if the qualified beneficiary fails to comply with the requirements pertaining to enrollment in, and payment of premiums to, the new group benefit plan within 30 days of receiving notice of the termination of the prior group benefit plan.

(d) Prior to August 1, 1998, every health care service plan shall provide to all covered employees of employers subject to this article a written notice containing the disclosures required by this section, or shall provide to all covered employees of employers subject to this section a new or amended evidence of coverage that includes the disclosures required by this section. Any specialized health care service plan that, in the ordinary course of business, maintains only the addresses of employer group purchasers of benefits and does not maintain addresses of covered employees, may comply with the notice requirements of this section through the provision of the notices to its employer group purchasers of benefits.

(e) Every plan disclosure form issued, amended, or renewed on and after January 1, 1999, for a group benefit plan subject to this article shall provide a notice that, under state law, an enrollee may be entitled to continuation of group coverage and that additional information regarding eligibility for this coverage may be found in the plan's evidence of coverage.

(Amended by Stats. 1998, Ch. 107, Sec. 8.5.)