Does COBRA Apply to Dental Coverage?

by Jeannine Mancini

COBRA, which stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, provides temporary insurance coverage. Under COBRA, people who have lost their employer-sponsored health insurance have the opportunity to maintain the same coverage at their own expense. In addition to extending your medical insurance, COBRA also applies to dental.

Eligibility for Dental Plans

COBRA applies to medical, vision and dental plans offered by your employer. However, you can only continue plans you were actually enrolled in while employed. For example, if you declined a dental plan, you cannot obtain the coverage once you become COBRA-eligible. If the employer offered dental and medical through separate plans, you can choose to continue both or opt to continue just the medical or dental plan. If dental was included with the medical plan offered by your employer, you must elect to continue the entire plan.

Qualifying for COBRA

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers with 20 or more employees are usually required to offer COBRA coverage to employees. Employers are required to notify their employees of the availability of COBRA coverage. You may qualify for COBRA if you were covered by a group health plan on the day before a qualifying event occurred. Qualifying events are defined as events that cause an individual to lose health care coverage. Employees generally qualify if they lose their jobs or quit for any reason other than gross misconduct. An employee can also qualify if his hours are reduced below the required amount necessary to participate in the employer-sponsored plan.

Cost of COBRA Dental

The cost of your COBRA dental benefits will depend on your plan. Employers commonly subsidize their group plan premium so employees are not responsible for the full cost. If you are no longer an employee, you may bear the weight of your entire premium along with an administrative fee. At the time of publication, you can be required to pay as much as 102 percent of cost of the plan.

Family Eligibility

Your spouse or family is eligible for COBRA dental benefits if they were receiving dental coverage through your employer. You and each qualified family member are entitled to make a separate decision to continue coverage. Each member of your family group is listed as a "qualified beneficiary” on the COBRA Election. On the form, you can elect which benefits you want to maintain for each person, or decline coverage in its entirety for specific family members.

About the Author

Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.

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