Employee benefits packages can provide a competitive edge from one employer to another. Sometimes, employee benefits start and stop based on the hire and termination dates, while others may have waiting periods before they begin.  

A common benefit offered to employees is employer-sponsored health insurance. If there is a waiting period for it to begin for new hires, or if it ceases the same day the employment ends, it can cause gaps in health insurance coverage for the employee and, in some cases, their family members. The loss of health insurance can be detrimental to the individual or family if they have chronic health problems or something unexpected happens. 

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and state-specific continuation laws are programs that allow terminated employees to continue the employer-sponsored health insurance after they leave their jobs. These can help fill the health insurance gap between one employer-sponsored health plan and another.  

Employers must know which law to follow, and the difference starts with the number of employees.  

COBRA is a federal law that applies to most employers with 20 or more employees. COBRA generally allows employees and their families to continue their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage for up to 18 months (up to 36 months for the death of a spouse) after a qualifying event. The qualifying event could be the termination date, loss of coverage due to reduced hours, or other qualifying events. 

State-specific continuation laws are like COBRA but apply to employers with less than 20 employees and may offer different benefits and coverage periods. In Pennsylvania, “Mini-COBRA” allows employees to continue their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage for up to nine (9) months. 

At FIFS, we work with employers to help them navigate the complex COBRA and state-specific continuation laws to help them stay compliant. If you are managing a business and struggling to navigate the benefits for your employees, contact us today at 267.384.5300 or complete the form below.