Know your benefits

COBRA — it keeps you covered

Health Insurance Claim Form on a clipboard with a calculator and credit card

Are you or a family member going to lose the health insurance provided by the city Department of Education and your UFT Welfare Fund benefits? If a change of job or other life circumstance leaves you without coverage, you and your family have the right to buy health coverage from your former employer for up to 36 months.

As set by federal law, known by the acronym COBRA, the DOE and the UFT Welfare Fund allow you to buy health coverage at the rate of 102 percent of the actual premium cost. You are responsible for paying the premium cost when you continue health coverage under COBRA, which generally costs less than individual insurance of a similar caliber. As an alternative, under the Affordable Care Act, you may purchase coverage through the health insurance marketplace.

You must file the COBRA application within 60 days of losing your health insurance. Ask your school’s payroll secretary for the city’s Employee Benefits Program’s Continuation of Coverage Application (NYC COBRA application). You can also obtain the premium rates and download the application from the city’s website.

You can also elect to continue your UFT Welfare Fund benefits, which include prescription drug, optical, dental and hearing aid benefits. If you choose to buy your basic health insurance, you will not automatically continue to receive UFT Welfare Fund benefits. You must complete a separate UFT Welfare Fund COBRA application.

To expedite the processing of your application for UFT Welfare Fund COBRA benefits, send a copy of your completed NYC COBRA application form directly to the UFT Welfare Fund or call the UFT Welfare Fund COBRA Unit at 212-539-0560 to request a Welfare Fund COBRA application.

The Welfare Fund COBRA application will give you the option to purchase some or all of the Welfare Fund health benefits.

‘Qualifying events’

Generally, the first 18 months of health coverage are provided through COBRA continuation coverage and the second 18 months through the New York State “mini COBRA provision” (medical) and the UFT Welfare Fund extension of continuation of coverage benefits (Welfare Fund). You may be eligible for this extended coverage if you lose health coverage because:

  1. You resigned or were terminated for any reason other than gross misconduct; or
  2. Your hours were reduced or you went on an uncovered leave of absence.

Your spouse/domestic partner may be eligible to purchase COBRA coverage for up to 36 months due to one of the following events:

  1. Divorce or legal separation from you; or
  2. Termination of a domestic partnership with you; or
  3. Your death.

Your dependent child may be eligible to purchase COBRA coverage for up to 36 months due to one of the following events:

  1. Being ineligible to be claimed as a “dependent child” because of turning 26; or
  2. Your death.
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