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FAQs - COBRA and Loss of Coverage
Options for Continuing Health Coverage

How can I maintain health insurance coverage if I lose eligibility for OEBB coverage?
If you or one of your dependents loses eligibility for OEBB coverage, there are a number of options to make sure you and your family members are still protected, such as COBRA, portability plans, retiree plans or an individual plan. For more information on each of these options and the differences between them, please continue reading the FAQ’s below.

 
COBRA

What is COBRA?
COBRA is guaranteed continuation of your previous OEBB coverage, administered by BenefitHelp Solutions (BHS). Regardless of your health status, COBRA law allows eligible parties losing OEBB coverage to continue that same coverage for at least 18 months. 
How much does COBRA coverage cost?
COBRA premiums are equal to the full OEBB premium plus two percent. Keep in mind, your employer may have been contributing toward your premium when you were eligible for OEBB coverage, so the amount you were paying may not have been the full premium amount. OEBB publishes full premium rates and COBRA rates on the OEBB website: http://www.oregon.gov/OHA/OEBB/rates.shtml
What if I can’t afford COBRA coverage?
Portability and individual plans (details below) are a couple of options that may be more economical. There are also government programs available to help those who cannot afford health insurance.
 
Download the flyer from the Office of Private Health Partnerships (OPHP) to learn more.
How do I enroll in COBRA coverage?
When OEBB coverage ends, BenefitHelp Solutions mails COBRA information to the eligible party, including rates and enrollment instructions/forms.  Anyone enrolling in COBRA coverage will work directly with BenefitHelp Solutions, making payments directly to them.
How and when will I receive my COBRA information and application?
When your employer enters a termination date for your coverage in MyOEBB, the online benefit enrollment system, that data gets transferred to BenefitHelp Solutions within a week and they will mail your personalized COBRA packet/application to your mailing address that is listed in MyOEBB.  
How can I check on my COBRA packet if I believe I should have received it by now? 
You can contact OEBB at (888) 469-6322. We can research the situation and let you know when to expect it, or request BenefitHelp Solutions send another packet, if necessary.
Where do I send my COBRA payment?
OEBB has contracted with BenefitHelp Solutions (BHS) to administer COBRA. Payments must be made directly to BHS. You may contact BHS directly at (800) 556-2230 or online at: www.benefithelpsolutions.com/oebb.
Do I have the option of selecting a different plan when I move to COBRA coverage?
No. COBRA coverage is for the same OEBB plan(s) you had as an active employee. You may choose whether or not to continue medical or dental or vision coverage.
Is there an opportunity to change my COBRA coverage elections at some time in the future (for instance, Open Enrollment)?
Yes, COBRA participants may make coverage changes if they experience a Qualified Status Change (QSC) or during Open Enrollment. Available options and the associated premium costs for OEBB COBRA participants are distributed by BenefitHelp Solutions each August.  Questions regarding COBRA Open Enrollment should be directed to BenefitHelp Solutions at (800) 556-2230.
 
Although COBRA coverage changes can be made at certain times, plan changes are not allowed within a certain type of coverage. For example, you can not change from one medical plan to another medical plan.  
I’ve already met my deductible for this plan year. Do I have to start over and meet it again when I move to COBRA?
No, COBRA coverage is literally continuing the same coverage you had, so your benefit levels and history will transfer to the COBRA plan just like it would have if you had remained on the active plan.
My coverage should not have ended, but I received a COBRA packet in the mail. What should I do?
Usually one of the following has occurred:
  1. Coverage is ending for one of your dependents (either it ended recently or your employer knows the specific date in the future it will end and they’ve updated the MyOEBB system in advance with this future date.)
What To Do: Look on page 3 of the information to see the name of the specific person or persons eligible for COBRA. If the loss of coverage is for a dependent or the spouse, the letter is addressed to that person. If employee and family, it is addressed to the employee and family.
  1. Your employment type has changed (e.g., you recently retired or will soon retire and your employer has entered the date of that change into the MyOEBB system). Even though you have already made arrangements for retiree coverage, the fact that your “active plan” is ending requires a COBRA notice be sent to you.
What To Do: If you already made arrangements for other coverage and do not need COBRA coverage, you can disregard the COBRA notice.
If neither of these scenarios listed above are applicable, please call OEBB Member Services at (888) 469-6322. An OEBB representative can research the situation for you and provide more explanation.
How can I learn more about COBRA, enrollment deadlines, payment process or other related information?
The quickest source for specific questions pertaining to your personal COBRA coverage/options is to call BenefitHelp Solutions at (800) 556-2230.  Below are links you may also find helpful:
BenefitHelp Solutions Frequently Asked Questions
 
"An Employee's Guide to Health Benefits Under COBRA" - A very easy-to-understand yet comprehensive guide to COBRA benefits in general.  (This booklet was published in 2006.)
 

 
Portability
What is a "portability plan" or "portability coverage"?
Portability is guaranteed medical coverage that picks up where your OEBB medical plan (or COBRA plan) leaves off, so you ultimately have uninterrupted coverage, although the specifics of the coverage change.  Portability plans typically have higher deductibles and cover less than your previous coverage did, but it also typically costs less and coverage is guaranteed regardless of health.   
How do I get more information about a portability plan?
Portability coverage is only available through the company previously providing your active medical coverage, so the carrier of your OEBB medical plan (Kaiser, ODS or Providence) would provide portability plans for people formerly covered on an OEBB plan.  
 
If you'd like to learn more about this option, contact your carrier directly.
 
 
Individual Plans
 
What are “individual" insurance plans?
Individual insurance plans are plans you purchase on your own directly from an insurance company. They are available on the open market from virtually any insurance carrier, but coverage is not guaranteed (meaning you may need to submit a medical history statement before the carrier will agree to cover you) and prices and plan designs vary. 
If I have a pre-existing health condition, will I automatically be denied if I apply for an individual plan?
Not necessarily, but it is possible. Depending on the condition, its impact on your overall health, and the particular insurance carrier’s policies, you may or may not be approved for coverage. If this is a concern for you, you may still want to apply but also explore other “guaranteed coverage” options like COBRA or portability at the same time. Be sure to note the enrollment deadlines for your COBRA and portability options.
 
Optional Plans

Can I continue my life insurance as well as my health insurance?
You may be eligible to buy portable Group Life Insurance (a “life portability” policy) through The Standard within 31 days of losing your OEBB life insurance due to termination of employment. Unlike COBRA, there are no laws requiring a notification to remind you of this option at the time your coverage ends, so it's up to you to initiate the process.  A complete list of eligibility requirements and prices are printed on the application.  Prices on the application are monthly rates per $1,000 of insurance and are based on age as well as tobacco usage of the covered individual.
 
Life conversion is another option, which allows a member to continue life insurance coverage with an individual policy if elected within 31 days of losing coverage. Life conversion provides a coverage continuation option when portability criteria are not met (or instead of portability).
What’s the difference between a "life portability" policy and a "life conversion" policy?
Portability is considered a group policy and is usually more affordable. A conversion plan is considered an individual policy and therefore will typically be more expensive than portability coverage. However, if a member doesn’t meet the portability requirements a conversion policy may be another option for continuous coverage.
What are the eligibility requirements for Life Portability?
The eligibility requirements are stated at the beginning of the application under “Instructions”. If you have further questions about these requirements after reviewing them, please call The Standard at (866) 756-8115.
How do I get more information about the Life Conversion option?
You can submit a “Request for Group Life Conversion Materials” online through The Standard’s website (http://www.standard.com/mybenefits/oebb), or you can call The Standard at 866-756-8115.
Can I continue my Long Term Care insurance?
Yes.  As part of your benefits plan with Oregon Educators Benefit Board (OEBB), you have the option of continuing your Group Long Term Care coverage on a direct-billed basis.  Once UNUM receives notification from OEBB that your payroll deductions have ended they will send you a continuation packet with a confirmation of your current coverage and premium statement for your premiums back to the date payroll deductions were discontinued.  All future bills will be mailed directly to you one month prior to the due date on a quarterly basis.  If you prefer to be billed on a semi-annual or annual basis, prefer an Automatic Withdrawal option, or have any other questions about your Long Term Care coverage, please call UNUM’s Customer Contact Center at (800)227-4165. Their Information Specialists are available Monday through Friday, 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.
 
 
EAP - Here to Help

How long can I access EAP benefits if I lose my job?
Reliant Behavioral Health (RBH), OEBB’s EAP provider, understands that job loss can be a very stressful time where counseling services and financial assistance may be needed most. If your educational entity has selected EAP benefits for the current plan year (click here for a list of participating entities), RBH allows separated employees to access EAP services up to 30 days after OEBB benefits end.
My EAP benefit allows up to six counseling sessions per issue. If I start my sessions after I lose my job, I may not use all six within 30 days. Do I have to stop my sessions at the 30-day mark?
No, if you begin a series of sessions within 30 days following separation from your employer, the EAP benefit will allow you to continue the series to completion.   
What if I wish to continue seeing my counselor after I’ve used my allotted number of EAP sessions?
Similar to when you were actively employed, you can continue seeing your counselor, but you will need to make payment arrangements for any sessions beyond those provided by the EAP. When you call the EAP to request your counseling sessions, be sure to discuss your health insurance (e.g., when your active OEBB coverage will end, whether you will enroll in COBRA or another health insurance, etc.) so the EAP representative can refer you to a provider suited to both your current and future needs.
How do I access the EAP benefits?
Call Reliant Behavioral Health (RBH) at (866)750-1327. They will guide you through the process and connect you with the assistance you need.

  
 

Have questions on a different topic? Go back to the main Frequently Asked Questions page.