A new state health insurance coverage continuation law took effect in South Dakota in July.

South Dakota Insurance Director Merle Scheiber answers questions about the program in South Dakota Bulletin 08-08.

To make continuation coverage more affordable, insurers and plans affected by the law must offer a reduced-benefit option, Scheiber writes in the bulletin.

An insurer can use any rating factors associated with the employer, and factors such as the age and gender of the individual applicant, when setting the continuation coverage rates, Scheiber writes.

An employer and carrier can use existing communications vehicles to tell departing employees about the program.

The program is available only to employees eligible to opt for continuation coverage on or after July 1, and not to employees who left employer plans at an earlier time, Scheiber writes.