If you leave the County or go on an unpaid leave of absence, here’s how your HCRA participation is affected.
If your employment with the County ends, you can:
Stop contributing and file claims for expenses you incurred only up to the day you terminate employment (in this case, you forfeit any amount left in your account if you have not yet incurred expenses) or;
Continue making contributions on an after-tax basis if you elected COBRA continuation.
COBRA allows you the opportunity to continue your health plan enrollment and HCRA contributions for a limited period of time when County employment ends. Once you leave the County you’ll receive specific instructions and information on COBRA. For general COBRA information contact SHPS Continuation Services at 1-800-807-8847, press 2. If you decide to continue contributing to your HCRA through COBRA, all provisions of the account will be the same; except for the way you deposit money into your account. Instead of putting money into the account before taxes are withheld, you must make after-tax contributions to continue participating. After-tax contributions are made by check to SHPS Continuation Services. Because of this change, you lose the advantage of paying eligible expenses with before-tax dollars, but you continue contributions to allow payment of an eligible expense. You are responsible for sending a check to the COBRA administrator (SHPS) each month in the amount of your after-tax contribution. Then, you can file claims for expenses you incur for the rest of the Plan Year. You must submit all claims received by March 31 after the plan year ends for expenses you incurred up to December 31. This deadline applies even if you stop contributions because you have reached the maximum COBRA continuation period. You cannot continue to make contributions to HCRA after 12/31 of the Plan Year in which you terminate employment, even if you are still enrolled in COBRA.
An important note…
The purpose of continuing your contribution through COBRA is to allow you to continue to have access to money in your HCRA through the end of the plan year even if you leave the County. Keep in mind, however, that you are no longer receiving a paycheck. This means your continued contributions are on an after-tax basis and you are no longer receiving the same tax advantages you did as an employee.
If You Go on Any Unpaid Leave of Absence
If you go on any unpaid leave of absence or have any absence during which you do not receive a paycheck, you may continue to participate in the Health Care Reimbursement Account, for the remainder of the Plan Year, by making after-tax contributions. When you return to work, you can resume making before-tax contributions.
If you do not make after-tax contributions while you are on an unpaid leave of absence, your participation ends. If your unpaid leave lasted 15 or more days, you must resatisfy the eligibility requirements in order to begin participation in the HCRA plan. If your unpaid leave lasted 15 or less days, you will be reinstated in the HCRA plan when you return to work. If you go on an FMLA leave, however, you can continue participation without a waiting period when you return to work even if you chose not to participate during your leave. In any case, you can submit claims for expenses you incurred before your leave began.