Any employee whose compensation includes a health maintenance agreement, the cost of which is paid in full or in part by an employer including the state of Washington, its political subdivisions, or municipal corporations, or paid by payroll deduction, may pay the cost as it becomes due directly to the agreement holder whenever the employee's compensation is suspended or terminated directly or indirectly as a result of a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute, for a period not exceeding six months and at the rate and coverages as the health maintenance agreement provides. During that period of time, such agreement may not be altered or changed. Nothing in this section impairs the right of the health maintenance organization to make normal decreases or increases in the cost of the health maintenance agreement upon expiration and renewal of the agreement, in accordance with the agreement. Thereafter, if such health maintenance agreement is no longer available, the employee shall be given the opportunity to convert as specified in RCW 48.46.450
. When the employee's compensation is so suspended or terminated, the employee shall be notified immediately by the agreement holder in writing, by mail addressed to the address last of record with the agreement holder, that the employee may pay the cost of the health maintenance agreement to the agreement holder as it becomes due as provided in this section. Payment must be made when due or the coverage may be terminated by the health maintenance organization.