We have created a page to help answer the most commonly asked questions that people ask in regards to benefits when leaving Dartmouth.
What to Expect
When do Benefits End?
All benefits will end on the last day of the month in which your employment or benefits eligible position ends. For example, if your last date of employment is on July 10, your benefits will end on July 31.
Do I Need to Notify the Benefits Office?
Only if you are removing a dependent due to death. If you are leaving Dartmouth, or losing benefits eligibility, your department will notify their Finance Center of your last date of employment/eligibility. Benefits will also be notified of the change and will then send notification to each of the insurance carriers who will end your coverage. the Benefits office will also notify Sentinel Benefits (the COBRA Administrator) of your last date of coverage. Refer to the OBRA section below.
May I Continue Benefits After I Leave?
Yes. Whenever you or a dependent loses benefit eligibility you may continue Medical, Dental, and your Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) benefits for a period of time under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Some benefits may be continued directly through the vendor. These benefits include: Life Insurance through Lincoln Financial, Dependent Life Insurance through LIncoln Financial, and Supplemental Benefits through Winston Benefits. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) will continue automatically and may continue to be used for as long as there is a balance in the account.
Other Medical Coverage Options
Other Common Questions
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
Health Reimbursement Account (HRA)
Health Savings Accounts (HSA)
Life Insurance Benefits
Long Term Disability Benefits
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a law that was passed by Congress in 1986, allowing eligible employees the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates. Sentinel Benefits is the third party administrator for Dartmouth's COBRA administration.
When/Where Can I Expect to Receive a COBRA Packet?
A COBRA packet will be mailed by Sentinel Benefits to the legal mailing or legal residence address that you have on file through Dartmouth's self service system. The packet will be sent within 2-3 weeks of your loss of coverage date. If you need a packet mailed to an ex-spouse or a dependent child who is no longer living with you, please notify the Benefits office as soon as possible at 603-646-3588, with an updated address where the packet should be mailed.
How Do I Continue Benefits Under COBRA?
Once you receive the COBRA packet, you must complete and return the COBRA election forms with payment within the allotted 60-day election period. The 60-day election period ends 60-days after the latter of your loss of coverage date, or the date of the notice. You will lose all rights to continue coverage under COBRA if you do not make an election during the 60-day period. You will not be covered until all paperwork and payment have been received by Sentinel Benefits, however, once received, all incurred medical, prescription drug and/or dental expenses will be covered up to the "allowable amount" retroactively back to your last date of coverage.
What If I Need To Use Medical Services Prior to Receiveing/Returning My COBRA packet?
Explain to your provider that you have left your employment or are no longer eligible for benefits at Dartmouth College, and that you are in the process of enrolling in COBRA. Most providers will send a bill to your home, which you can later call and have the claim re-submitted once the COBRA coverage has been established. If you have upcoming services that require a prior authorization, please contact the Benefits Office at 603-646-3588 for an expedited enrollment.
What If I Need a Prescription Prior to Receiveing/Returning My COBRA packet?
Prescription drugs must be paid out of pocket, and will only be reimbursed at the Express Scripts "allowed" amount. However, most pharmacies will reimburse the overpayment, if you return within 14 days with your pharmacy ID number and original receipt. Please speak with your pharmacy about their process in these cases and what they will allow. If you have an urgent situation, please contact the benefits office at 603-646-3588.
Do I Have To Take COBRA?
No. You may drop the Dartmouth coverage when you leave and join a plan through your spouse, partner or other source, if eligible. You may also apply for medical coverage through the state or federal Health Care Exchanges. The healthcare.gov website provides more information about state and federal Health Care coverages.
How Much Will I Pay On COBRA?
Below are the monthly COBRA premium rates for calendar year 2022.
How Long Can I Stay On COBRA?
Generally coverage will last up to 18 months, however some situations like divorce or death may allow for a longer period of coverage. Refer to your COBRA packet for more information.
Who Can I Cover Under COBRA?
- COBRA Eligibility - You and any family members who are currently covered under a Dartmouth Cigna plan may continue coverage under COBRA. If you are Medicare eligible, please see the "COBRA and Medicare" section below.
- Dependents Taking Individual Coverage - If you choose to take coverage elsewhere, but your family continues through COBRA, or if a family member is removed from your plan due to a divorce, child turning age 26, etc., that family member may continue coverage through their own plan, under a new plan ID number.
Do My Health Plans Change When Electing COBRA?
- If you elect to continue medical and prescription coverage through COBRA, your plan will not change. You will remain on the same OAP, CCF, or HDHP. All out-of-pocket expenses paid year-to-date will continue to count toward your deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums for the year.\
- ID Cards - When continuing medical and prescription coverage, as long as you are still the primary member on the plan, ID numbers and cards will not change for you or your family members.
What If I Want/Need To Make Changes To MY Plans Once I Elect COBRA?
- Changing Plans - Once you elect COBRA, you may not change to a different Cigna plan (OAP, CCF or HDHP) until the COBRA Open Enrollment period.
- Open Enrollment – You will receive a COBRA Open Enrollment packet from Sentinel Benefits in the late fall, which will allow you to make changes to your plan for the upcoming calendar year.
- Mid-Year Qualifying Events - You may add and/or remove dependents from your plan if you have a mid-year qualifying event.
COBRA and MEDICARE
- If you or your covered spouse are medicare eligible or becoming medicare eligible within the next year, we highly encourage you to contact the Medicare office to discuss how signing up for COBRA or coverage on the health care exchange may affect you; including coordination of benefits with your new plan and/or the potential for late enrollment penalties.
- Contact Medicare at: 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227)
COBRA Open Enrollment
As with your active benefits, you will also have an annual Open Enrollment period, when continuing benefits through COBRA. This period is typically around the same time period that Dartmouth has Open Enrollment for actively working employees. However, the COBRA Open Enrollment is typically an active enrollment, meaning that you MUST elect the benefit plans you want for the following year or you will have no coverage. Please make sure that you watch your mail in the October/November time frame for an Open Enrollment packet from Sentinel.
How Do I Pay Monthly COBRA Premiums?
Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group offers 3 ways in which you may pay your monthly COBRA premiums
- Monthly automatic withdrawal from your bank account via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT)
- Credit Card payments can be made at any time, but are not recurring.
- Check or Money Order made payable to:
Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group
PO Box 5004
Reading, MA 01867
Attn: COBRA Administration Team
May I Retain a Patient at Dartmouth Health Connect?
- Existing patients who elect coverage under COBRA may continue care at Dartmouth Health Connect, until your COBRA coverage ends.
- Retirees who are enrolled in a Cigna medical plan through Dartmouth, or who have Medicare as their primary insurance, may be able to continue being seen as a patient at Dartmouth Health Connect. Please contact Dartmouth Health Connect for additional information.
Where Else Can I Obtain Health Insurance, Other than Through COBRA?
- A new employer
- A Spouse
- The Health Care Exchange
- The Health Care Exchange (Marketplace) allows you to find and compare private health insurance coverage.
- Coverage through the Exchange may cost less than COBRA continuation coverage. If you or your spouse are Medicare eligible, please see the COBRA AND MEDICARE section above.
- You have 60 days from the time you lose your medical coverage to enroll in the Health Care Exchange. After 60 days you may have to wait until the next open enrollment period, offered through the exchange.
- For more information on the Health Care Exchange, visit www.healthcare.gov
What Happens If I Don't Want Health Insurance?
Some states have their own individual health insurance mandate, requiring you to have qualifying health coverage or to pay a fee with your state taxes for the plan year. Check with your state or tax preparer to find out if there is a fee for not having health coverage.
What Do I Do If I Have Claims Issues After I Leave Dartmouth?
The www.my.cigna.com website will remain available for 12 months from your last date of employment if you wish to view claims. You may also contact Cigna directly at 855-869-8619 or for escalated claims contact the Benefits office at 603-646-3588.
How Do I Obtain "Proof of Prior Coverage" If Asked By My New Employer?
If you are required to provide a proof of coverage document to your next employer, please call Cigna Customer Service at 855-869-8619.
I Am Getting Divorced - What Else Do I Need To KNow?
- Former spouses and their child dependents (step children) are not eligible dependents on the Dartmouth benefit plans and must be removed by the employee by completing a Divorce event in FlexOnline.
- Be sure to notify your former spouse immediately that they are being removed from your coverage. You and your former spouse only have 31 days from the date of the divorce event to make the changes to your health plans.
- Your former spouse and their child dependents will be eligible to continue coverage through an individual CIGNA or Delta Dental plan under the same COBRA guidelines spelled out above.
- If your former spouse is no longer living with you, please notify the benefits office once the divorce event has been finalized, so the COBRA packet is mailed to the appropriate location.
Can I Continue Dental Under COBRA?
Yes, the same rules apply for Dental coverage under COBRA as they do for Medical. See informaiton on COBRA coverage and rates above.
Where Else Can I Buy Dental Insurance?
New Hampshire Continuation of Coverage (COC)
In addition to your COBRA packet, New Hampshire residents will also receive a packet offering continuation of dental coverage (COC) through the State of New Hampshire.
- Plans - The NH COC is a continuation of your existing Delta Dental plan.
- Costs - The same as your Dartmouth Coverage, but the state of NH does not charge the additional 2% admin fee that you pay with COBRA.
- Coverage Ends - NH COC continues for 18 months, same as COBRA
- ID Card – You will continue to use the same ID number/card that you used as a Dartmouth employee, whether you continue through COBRA or NH COC.
- No Coverage - There is no IRS penalty for canceling dental insurance.
What Happens When My Dental Coverage Runs Out Under COBRA or Through the NH COC?
You may be able to purchase a private dental plan through North East Delta Dental or another dental carrier that covers your geographic area.
Health Care FSA
- Changing Employment Categories - RAB and Research Fellows are not eligible to participate in either of the FSA benefits. If you are enrolled in a HCFSA and move into one of these non-eligible employment categories, you will lose benefit eligibility and the benefit will end and you may choose to continue contributing to it on a post-tax basis under COBRA.
- Losing Benefit Eligibility - If you are enrolled in a HCFSA and your Full Time Equivalency decreases below half time, you will lose benefit eligibility and the benefit will end. You may choose to continue contributing to it on a post-tax basis under COBRA.
- Debit Cards - Your Sentinel debit card will be deactivated on the day after you lose eligibility for the benefit (see losing benefit eligibility above).
- Overspend of Funds - If you have already spent more money than you have contributed by the time your plan coverage ends, you will not be required to pay back the difference.
- COBRA - If you have already spent more than the amount that you have contributed year to date (as of the time you become eligible for COBRA), you will not be eligible to continue the HCFSA under COBRA. Otherwise, when you elect to continue your Health Care FSA under COBRA, you may continue to incur expenses and contribute to the account on a post-tax basis, through the end of the plan year in which your employment ends. The plan year ends on December 31st.
- Runout Period (Deadline to submit claims) - Regardlesso of whether you continue the benefit under COBRA, the Health Care FSA has a three month runout period (through March 31st), that allows you to submit claims for expenses that were incurred during the period within the prior calender year for which your account was active (Typically January 1st through either the last day of the month in which you were benefits eligible OR through December 31st if you continued the benefit under COBRA).
- Carryover Feature - If you continue your Health Care FSA under COBRA, unused dollars will not carry over after the runout period ends and the remaining balance in your account will be lost.
- Incurring Claims - You may continue to incur claims through the end of the month, in which you leave Dartmouth or lose eligibility for the benefit. If you are eligible to continue the benefit under COBRA, then you may continue to incur claims through the end of the calendar year.
- Submitting for Reimbursement - Once your card has been deactivated, claims may be submitted directly to Sentinel by filling out a claim form and sending it via US mail, by using the Sentinel phone app, or by uploading the fo/"rm to your personal account at www.Sentinelgroup.com
- Proof of Payment - You are not required to show proof of payment when submitting expenses, an Explanation of Benefits or unpaid invoice should suffice.
- Eligible Expenses - For a list of eligible expenses visit http://dartgo.org/fsa_eligible
- Claim Form - The Sentinel DCFSA Claim Form.
Dependent Care FSA
- COBRA - Unlike the Health Care FSA, you may not continue your Dependent Care FSA under COBRA. Expenses incurred after the last day of coverage will not be approved.
- Runout Period (Deadline to Submit Claims) - You will still have the runout period through March 31st of the following year to submit your expenses manually through Sentinel.
- Submitting for Reimbursement - The process does not change. You will continue to submit expenses to Sentinel using the claim form.
- Claim Form - Use this form when submitting DCFSA claims.
- The Account - If you are enrolled in either the Cigna CCF or the HDHP plan with HRA option at the time that you leave Dartmouth, then you would also have an HRA account attached to your medical plan. HRA accounts are funded by and belong to Dartmouth, so the amount that is remaining in the account when you leave, is thereby forfeited and goes back to the College.
- Paying Claims - The HRA will follow the run-out period, which for Dartmouth is 90-days after the plan terminates. This means that both in- and out-of-network claims incurred prior to your coverage end date, and received by Cigna within 90-days of your coverage end date can still be paid with remaining HRA dollars. Claims received after the 90-days will not be considered for payment.
- Your Account - The amount that is in your HSA account when you leave Dartmouth, is your money to keep and take with you. This includes all employer contributions made to date. Your account will remain open and active and you may continue to spend down these funds over time as needed, regardless of the type of health plan you enroll in, in the future.
- Packet of Information - Fidelity will not send you a continuation of coverage packet when your benefits end with the college.
- Contributions - You may continue to make contributions to your HSA plan as long as you are actively enrolled in a qualified high deductible health plan, whether through your COBRA'd Cigna health plan, the health care exchange or some other qualified HDHP plan.
- Contribution Limits - You may continue to contribute up to the IRS' annual limit that you are eligible for.
- Administrative Fees - You will be charged a quarterly fee to maintain the account, which will be automatically deducted from your account.
- Account Balances - Your unspent balance will continue to roll over from year to year.
- Debit Card & Check Book - You may continue to use your HSA debit card and/or check book after you leave the college. Always make sure you keep your receipts for purchases, as you have always done.
- Tax Forms - You will continue to receive tax forms at year end and will need to file as part of your annual tax return.
- Tax Professionals - When leaving Dartmouth during the middle of a plan year, we highly encourage you to speak to a tax profesional to see how loss of contribution eligibility might impact your annual limit, and how contributions in other tax advantage plans (like HCFSA plans) within the same calendar year could impact your status with the IRS.
Lincoln Financial will mail a packet of information to your home, giving you the option to either port or convert your voluntary and dependent life insurance benefits. The $50,000 basic life plan is only available to convert. Porting is a non-Dartmouth group plan, while conversion allows you to take an individualized plan. You will be instructed to contact Lincoln Financial and a representative will call you back with information. You will have 31 days from last date of benefit coverage to complete and return the form to Lincoln Financial. Rates will differ from your Dartmouth College Group rates.
Long Term Disability (LTD) insurance will end on the last day of the month in which your employment ends. There is no option to port or convert your LTD insurance.
If you are on long or short term disability and choose to leave your emloyment with Dartmouth College, please speak with our Disability Administrator to see how this will impact your eligibility for any Dartmouth benefits, and Disability pay you are currently receiving.
- Once Winston Benefits has been notified that your employment has ended, your coverage will automatically be switched over to direct bill status.
- You will be billed at the same rate that you are currently paying under the Dartmouth College plan.
- If you do not pay the bill, coverage will automatically cancel and you will be notified.
- Universal Life Insurance plans may have some cash value, so unpaid premiums will be deducted from the cash value balance and will be cancelled once the cash value runs out.
- If you know you want to cancel, call Winston directly at 732-899-0990
If you are leaving Dartmouth, or losing benefits eligibility, all Adoption Reimbursement paperwork along with associated receipts and proof of payment must be received and approved by the benefits office prior to your last day of benefits eligible employment.
A regular, hourly employee who resigns with at least two weeks written notice or a salaried employee who resigns with at least one month’s notice is eligible for pay for any unused vacation and the earned vacation credit toward the next fiscal year. See Dartmouth’s Separation of Employment policy for more information.
What Should I Do About My Retirement Accounts?
- DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLAN (TIAA and FIDELITY) - The Defined Contribution (401a) account requires vesting to take ownership of the money in the account. Vesting is defined as 3 years of service to the college. If you are not vested, the money is forfeited by you and returned to Dartmouth. If you have completed at least 3 years of service or more, you have 3 options with the account. You may leave the account with the investment company until a later date, you may rollover the money into another qualified retirement account or you may take a cash distribution. (If you choose a cash distribution, taxes will be withheld and you may incur penalties.)
- SUPPLEMENTAL RETIREMENT ACCOUNT (TIAA and FIDELITY) - If you have contributed to a Supplemental Retirement Account (403b) as an active employee, any monies in the account belong to you and would be subject to the same 3 options mentioned above, including taxes and possible penalties. Whatever you choose to do with your account(s), the process must be initiated with the investment company where the account is housed.
- Defined Benefit (Staff and Union) Pension Plan
- 457b Retirement Plan Information
If you have additional questions beyond what is available here, please contact the Benefits office at 603-646-3588 or Sentinel if you have questions pertaining to COBRA coverage at 888-762-6088.