"COBRA" stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (29 U.S.C. §§ 1161–1168 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 300bb-1–300bb-8). Upon occurrence of a qualifying event, this federal law (along with the Affordable Care Act (ACA)) requires municipalities with 20 or more employees to continue health coverage, at the employee’s expense, for a certain period at the group rate. The Affordable Care Act, however, has not changed an employer's obligation to offer COBRA to qualified beneficiaries experiencing a qualifying event. Qualifying events include but are not limited to:
- Termination of employment (except for gross misconduct)
- Death of the covered employee
- Reduction in work hours
Once the qualifying event occurs, the employee or qualified beneficiaries must be given at least a 60 day notice to elect continuation of health care coverage. The period for which coverage can be continued varies, depending on the qualifying event. The notice must advise the ex-employee of assistance available from the state Department of Social Services. T.C.A. §4-3-1404.