Section 16. (a) An employee, in addition to the right of a deferred retiree status, or, conversion of insurance coverages to a non-group policy as provided in this chapter, and upon his involuntary termination of employment due to lack of funds, lack of work, or abolition of the position, may elect to continue all or part of his insurance coverages, including group membership in a health maintenance organization, until such employee and dependents become eligible and insured under another group plan of health insurance but in no event shall such extension of coverages exceed a period of thirty-nine weeks computed from the date of termination of employment or the date to which insurance premiums have been regularly paid whichever is the later.
(b) Upon determination by the employer of the termination of employment as described in this section the appointing authority, as the employer, shall notify in writing the employee of the right to elect to continue coverages under this section and a copy of such notification shall be sent to the commission at least fifteen working days prior to the date of termination of employment.
(c) The involuntarily terminated insured employee and on behalf of his dependents shall, upon election to continue insurance coverages under this section, give at least thirty days written notice thereof to the employer with a copy to the commission. For premium payment and reporting purposes, the appointing authority shall comply with the administrative and accounting procedures as established by the rules and regulations of the commission. Such employee shall be responsible for making payment to the commission of the total monthly premiums or rates, with no contribution by the commonwealth. The commission shall send a written notice by regular mail of the monthly premium when due to the last known address of the terminated employee, who, upon making timely monthly payments to the commission shall be required to certify under the penalty of perjury that the employee is not eligible or insured under another group policy or plan. Failure on the part of the commission to transmit the terminated employee’s premiums to the commission’s insurance carrier in a timely manner shall nevertheless render the insurance carrier and the commission liable under its contracts or policies for payment of claims to the same extent as if the commission had transmitted the employee’s premiums in a timely manner to the insurance carriers or plans.
(d) Upon expiration of the period of the extension as provided in this section, the commission shall provide to the terminated employee and dependents conversion rights to non-group coverages to the extent that such rights had not been exercised heretofore during the latest period of employment.