As I noted here New York has expanded their state COBRA law to grant 36 months of coverage in some cases. Unfortunately it appears this does not apply to me but not for the reason I was worried about. As the FAQ explains the law does not apply to self-funded (as opposed to fully insured) plans. The difference is explained here which notes in part:
Self-insured plans are subject to federal regulations, while fully-insured plans are regulated by the state in which the plan operates. This exempts MSU from providing for state-mandated benefits in our plans (which can be costly) and from paying state-mandated taxes on health care premiums (an additional expense for the plans).
I expect IBM's thinking is the same as MSU's and all their plans are self-insured. The benefits person on the phone said the law didn't apply to IBM and this seems like the most likely reason. And I really can't complain, New York's legislature is basically completely owned by the health care provider lobby and state regulated plans are likely much more expensive. Prices in the individual market seem to be ridiculous. Fortunately IBM has retiree plans that I can go into as an alternative which are more expensive than the employee plans but still better than the New York individual plans.