Displaced Employees: How do I continue my health benefits?

Continuation of Health Insurance Benefits Presentation

You may continue coverage in the benefit plans in which you were enrolled on your last day of employment through COBRA.  Under COBRA, you may continue the Medical, Prescription Drug and/or Dental coverage in which you were enrolled when your active coverage ended.  You will be responsible for paying the full monthly premium to continue your health insurance benefits under COBRA plus a 2% administrative fee.

If you wish to continue your current coverage, you must complete and return a Direct Pay enrollment form within 63 days of your last day of employment.  The Employee Benefits Division will mail a complete COBRA packet including and the Direct Pay enrollment form to the address on file for you and your dependents.

Are the covered health benefits under COBRA the same as the benefits I had while an active employee?

Yes.  The coverage in the benefit plans you choose to continue under COBRA is exactly the same as the coverage for active State employees. **

**Please note: If you or your covered dependent is eligible for Medicare due to age (at 65) or disability (at any age) prior to COBRA coverage, the COBRA health plan is secondary to Medicare Parts A and B; Medicare will be that individual’s primary coverage.  If you or a covered dependent become eligible for Medicare after COBRA coverage begins, that individual’s COBRA entitlement ends when Medicare entitlement begins, whether due to age (at age 65) or disability (at any age).  It is recommended that you enroll in Medicare Parts A and B when first eligible.

How much will my health benefits plans cost if I continue them?

If COBRA is elected, you must pay 100% of the premiums plus a 2% administrative fee in order for coverage to continue.  Please see the COBRA rate on the Employee Benefits Division website at www.dbm.maryland.gov/benefits for the January1, 2017 through December 31, 2017 plan year, which lists all the current premiums.  In the spring of 2011, an Open Enrollment package will be mailed to you at the home address on file with the Employee Benefits Division.  If you change your address, please notify the Employee Benefits Division immediately by writing to:  Employee Benefits Division, 301 W. Preston Street, Room 510, Baltimore, MD 21201.

How long do I have to make a decision about continuing or reducing my health benefits?

You have 63 days from your separation date to make an election to continue all or part of your benefit coverage.  Should you continue coverage, your selections will remain in effect until the next open enrollment period.  You may elect to make changes to your COBRA coverage during the Fall 2017 Open Enrollment period for an effective date of January 1, 2018 by completing a Direct Pay Enrollment Form and mailing the completed and signed form to the Employee Benefits Division.

Where do I send my payment if I continue my coverage on COBRA (beyond my severance period)?

After you have elected your COBRA benefits and have returned the Direct Pay Enrollment Form, you will receive payment coupons from the Employee Benefits Division with instructions on how to pay your benefit premiums.  You must attach the coupon to your check or money order and mail it to:

Department of Budget and Management
Employee Benefits Division
P.O. Box 1516
Baltimore, Maryland  21203

When will my premium payments be due?

For the initial premium, there is a 45-day grace period from the date your Direct Pay Enrollment Form is processed.  At that time, payment is due for the first month’s payment coupon through the current month’s payment coupon.  After the initial due date, your payment(s) will be due on the first of the month with a 30-day grace period.  Please note that the grace periods are for premium payments; claims may be denied until the premium payment is received.  It should be noted that the plans you selected may not pay claims until the premium for the month in which the claims occurred is paid.  Failure to pay premium payments timely will result in the loss of COBRA coverage.   

If I continue my health benefits coverage, where do I call if I have questions?

If you have questions about your benefits, you may contact the Employee Benefits Division by calling:

• 410-767-4775, option 1 within the Baltimore Metropolitan area, or
• 800-30-STATE (800-307-8283) option 1 Outside the Baltimore Metropolitan area

If you have specific questions regarding claims or benefits, please call the plan directly.  Plan customer service telephone numbers are listed on the inside front cover of your State of Maryland Benefits Guide and are also available on our website.

When I get another job, may I continue my State benefits if my new job does not allow me to have benefits for a certain time period?

Yes.  Your COBRA coverage may continue if you get a new job that has a waiting period before you are covered or that coverage will not cover a pre-existing condition.  If you are reemployed by the State, you will need to see your new Agency Benefits Coordinator to re-enroll in the State Employee and Retiree Health and Welfare Benefits Program with State subsidized premiums.

I have a Healthcare Spending Account for the current year.  May I continue to submit reimbursement claims to my Spending Account?

Yes.  You may submit requests for reimbursement from your Healthcare or Dependent Care Spending Accounts through April 15th of the year following your separation from employment as long as your receipts show that you received the service while you were still actively employed and participating in the plan.  In order to extend the period of time during which you participate in the Healthcare Spending Account, contact the Employee Benefits Division for more information.

May I continue my life insurance benefits with Securian?

You may not continue to participate in the State group plan with Securian; however, you may convert to an individual non-group policy within 30 days from your separation date.  For more information about converting to a non-group policy with Securian, please call their Customer Service Department at 866-883-3514. 

If you are planning to retire and wish to continue your Life Insurance as a retiree, please call the Employee Benefits Division at 410-767-4775 or 800-307-8283, option 2.

May I continue my Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance coverage with MetLife?

You may not continue to participate in the State group plan with MetLife; however, you may convert to an individual non-group policy within 30 days from your separation date.  For more information about converting to a non-group policy with MetLife, call their Customer Service Department at 866-492-6983. 

What happens to my health benefits if I am eligible to retire on or before my State employment ends, and decide to do so?

You should submit a Retiree Enrollment Form to the Employee Benefits Division within 60 days of your retirement date.  You may obtain this form by calling the Employee Benefits Division at 410-767-4775 or 800-307-8283, option 1. The form can also be printed from the Department of Budget and Management website at www.dbm.maryland.gov/benefits.   If your form is not received within 60 days of your retirement date, you will have to wait until the next Open Enrollment period to enroll.  If you experience another qualified life status change, you may also enroll within 60 days of that change.  Information on qualified life status changes can be found in the Health Benefits Guide.

Should you decide to enroll in health benefits upon retirement, every effort will be made to process your Retiree Enrollment Form for coverage to begin on the first day of your retirement.  If for any reason your form cannot be processed in time for a first retiree deduction, it will be processed for the first month possible, and you will receive a letter from the Employee Benefits Division that will tell you the amount of your “missed” premiums and how to pay that amount for continuous coverage.

If you were hired prior to 7/1/11 and retire directly from State service with at least five years of creditable service, you are eligible to enroll in health benefits.  If you have at least five years but less than 16 years of creditable service, you will receive a pro-rated State subsidy for the cost of your health benefits.   If you retire with 16 or more years of creditable service or retired from State Service with a disability, you will receive the maximum amount of State subsidy (the same as active employees).

What if I am vested but not eligible to retire on or before my State employment ends?

Your future retirement is considered a “deferred retirement.”  You will be eligible for retiree health benefits when you begin receiving your retirement allowance, provided one of the following conditions are met:

Hired prior to 7/1/11

  1. You ended State service with at least 16 years of creditable service (maximum State subsidy); or
  2. You ended State service with at least 10 years of creditable service and within five years of normal retirement age (pro-rated State subsidy for less than 16 years); or
  3. NOTE:  Generally members who are approved for a State disability retirement do not defer.

Hired after 7/1/11

  1. You ended State service with at least 25 years of creditable service (maximum State subsidy); or
  2. You ended State service with at least 10 years of creditable service and within five years of normal retirement age (pro-rated State subsidy for less than 25 years)