How do I continue medical, dental, and vision coverage through COBRA?

If you leave HPE prior to retirement, you can continue to receive the medical, dental, and vision options you have in place on your last day of work through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Benefits can generally continue for up to 18 months. Each benefit—medical, dental, and vision—is a separate COBRA election. However, if you’re eligible for Medicare, you cannot enroll in COBRA for medical coverage. If you’re participating in the Health Care Flexible Spending Account, you can also elect to continue making after-tax contributions through the remainder of the calendar year if you wish to cover expenses incurred after you terminate.

You can only extend coverage options that are in place when you leave. Then, during the annual enrollment period, you can select different options consistent with enrollment opportunities offered to active employees (except re-enrolling in the Health Care Flexible Spending Account). You can also make certain changes in coverage during the year if you have a qualified status change.

When you continue coverage under COBRA, you generally pay the full cost of coverage plus a 2% administrative fee.

What action you need to take

  • You’ll receive detailed information about COBRA including details and costs from the HPE Benefits Center within two weeks after you leave HPE. If you don’t receive this information, you should contact the HPE Benefits Center.
  • You can view costs and make your COBRA elections online before you receive your letter, starting a few days after your termination date at MyHPERewards (look for the “Action Needed” reference), or by calling the HPE Benefits Center. To see cost information before your last day at HPE, visit MyHPERewards and select “Continuing Coverage through COBRA” under “Job Related Changes” from the “Life Events” tab.
  • You must enroll within 60 days of your termination date or within 60 days of the date you’re notified about COBRA, whichever is later. Although you won’t enroll in or pay for COBRA continuation coverage until after your active coverage ends, if you elect and pay for your COBRA coverage by the deadlines, it will be retroactive—therefore you will not have a gap in your coverage.

To minimize any disruption in coverage, it’s important to enroll in COBRA as quickly as possible after your termination date and to send your initial premium payments promptly. Although COBRA coverage is effective retroactive to your termination date, your health plan generally won’t recognize coverage until the HPE Benefits Center has received your premiums. You may want to consider paying an additional month’s premium in advance to be sure that your health plan always shows your coverage as paid up to date (you can do so by simply sending in an additional month’s premium with your payment, and then continuing to pay regular monthly premiums thereafter). Paying premiums through the direct debit option isn’t recommended due to the relatively later timing of when your payments are made and premiums are received.

Shopping the public exchanges

As part of Health Care Reform, public health exchanges are online marketplaces where people can shop and buy medical coverage. They are designed for people who don’t have medical coverage from an employer or Medicare. Premiums are based on the individual’s age and the benefits offered. Depending on your family income, you may also qualify for government premium subsidies that can lower your cost of coverage.

As you think about your HPE coverage continuation options, you may want to understand and compare the options available to you through the exchanges. To learn more about federal subsidies and state and national exchanges, please visit .

Additional information

For more information, see the Medical, dental, vision page.


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