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COBRA Insurance Resources

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What Is COBRA Health Insurance?

The Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1985, or COBRA, is a federal law. It requires employers with 20 or more employees in the previous year to offer continuation of their group health plan for a limited time period. This coverage is for employees and their families in case of a qualifying life event that would otherwise terminate their coverage.

Multiple agencies are responsible for enforcing COBRA continuation coverage laws. Employer group health plans are regulated by the Departments of Labor and Treasury. The Department of Health and Human Services oversees the continuation of coverage laws for state and local governmental health plans.

How Does COBRA Work?

Is COBRA Coverage Right For You?

COBRA coverage allows you to continue your most recent health plan, with no exclusions or pre-existing conditions. This means that if you have pre-existing conditions and regularly visit the doctor, you can be confident that you will be covered by your existing health plan.

On the other hand, if you are in good health or only need coverage for a small period of time, selecting short-term medical insurance might be a good choice. These plans offer temporary, month-to-month coverage until you can enroll in new employer-sponsored health insurance.

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Are You Eligible For COBRA?

The COBRA continuation law requires employers with 20 or more employees to offer their group health plan coverage. This coverage applies to both employees and their families. It is only available for a limited time if their policy ends. Eligibility requires having been actively enrolled in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan for at least one day.

Eligibility Topics

Getting COBRA insurance starts with a qualifying event that would terminate a person’s employer-based health insurance.

COBRA Eligibility

COBRA Health Insurance Benefits

Your COBRA benefits allow you to continue using your most recent work-based health insurance. The employer that makes this plan available is responsible for enrollment, premium payments, the status of coverage and cancellations.

Are You Looking For Your Plan Administrator?

Here’s a list of the most common COBRA administrators that companies may use. If you still are unsure, contact the Human Resources Department of the employer who sponsored your most recent health insurance. They will be able to point you in the right

How Much Is It?

The cost of COBRA coverage can range from $400 to 700 per month, per individual. When you were employed, your employer likely subsidized a portion of the cost of your health insurance premiums. When you choose to continue your health insurance coverage through COBRA, you will be responsible for paying the full premium yourself. As a result, the premiums for COBRA coverage are generally higher than what you were paying while you were employed.

Applying For COBRA Health Insurance

When your job health insurance stops, you are allowed a special open enrollment period to select new health insurance. One option is to choose COBRA.

If you lose your job or your work insurance ends, your employer must offer you COBRA. You will be sent a notification within 45 days to continue your employer coverage

You have 60 days to respond to the election notice and apply for COBRA. This special enrollment allows you to continue the same medical policy you had while you were employed.

Is COBRA Coverage Retroactive? Yes, it is.

COBRA coverage is retroactive. This means it covers medical expenses that happened after your old coverage ended, but before COBRA began. If you have any medical expenses during this period, it’s important to keep your hospital and clinic receipts and statements.

Once you pay your premium, you will be reimbursed for those backdated expenses. In other words, your COBRA coverage will be effective from the date that you lost your previous coverage.

How Long Does COBRA Last?

Under COBRA, you can generally continue your employer-sponsored health insurance for a limited time, typically 18 to 36 months. The specific length of your COBRA coverage will depend on the qualifying event.

COBRA is a temporary solution, and you will need to find other health insurance coverage once your COBRA coverage ends.

Canceling A COBRA Plan

To cancel COBRA benefits, the primary beneficiary must notify the plan administrator in writing that they wish to terminate the plan.

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Temporary Health Plans Are An Alternative

Using a temporary health plan, such as Short Term Medical or Accident Only insurance, can lower your health insurance expenses. This type of insurance can bridge a gap (or “get by”) until your next major medical plan begins. This type of health insurance is a popular option and available in most states.

These plans are available on private health insurance marketplaces. Temporary plans do not provide preexisting condition coverage.

Mini-COBRA is Available In Some States

Businesses with 19 or fewer employees in many states are required to provide continued health insurance to their former employees, similar to COBRA. However, the deadlines and time frame for former employees to make a choice about their coverage may differ based on the state.

Find out which states have Mini-COBRA coverage continuation laws and see if it applies to your situation.

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