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COBRA Insurance Information Resource

Information and resources to help individuals understand their options for health insurance after their employer-based coverage ends.

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What Is COBRA Health Insurance?

COBRA is a federal law. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, is a law that requires group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees in the previous year to provide employees and their families with the option to pay for a temporary extension of health coverage (referred to as continuation coverage) due to a qualifying event where coverage under the plan would otherwise end. 

How Does COBRA Work?

Is COBRA Coverage Right For You?

If you have pre-existing conditions, regularly visit the doctor, or are pregnant, COBRA insurance might be the best option for you. COBRA insurance allows you to continue your most recent employer-sponsored health plan.

On the other hand, if you are in good health or only need coverage for a short period of time, 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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Check Your COBRA Eligibility

COBRA continuation law requires employers with 20 or more employees to offer their group health plan coverage to their employees and their families for a limited time if the policy ends. In order to be eligible for COBRA coverage, you must have been actively enrolled in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan for at least one day.

If you are a dependent on an employer-sponsored health insurance plan, you may be able to continue your coverage if the policyholder ends the plan.

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COBRA Eligibility

COBRA Benefits

Your federal COBRA benefits allow you to continue using your most recent health insurance coverage after the employer stops subsidizing a portion of it.

The company 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 direction.

Find Your Plan Administrator

How Much Is It?

The cost of COBRA coverage can vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of plan you had with your employer, your location, and the specific healthcare services you need. On average, COBRA premiums can range from $400 to 700 per month, per individual. It’s important to note that COBRA premiums are generally higher than the premiums you were paying while you were still employed because your employer was likely subsidizing a portion of the cost.

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 COBRA.

The COBRA insurance rules require that after you leave your job or your work insurance ends, the employer has 45 days to notify you of your option of electing COBRA continuation to maintain your medical coverage.

You have 60 days to respond to the election notice and apply for COBRA to continue the same medical policy you are or were on.

Is COBRA Coverage Retroactive? Yes, it is.

COBRA coverage is retroactive, meaning that it covers medical expenses that occurred after your previous coverage ended but before your COBRA coverage 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 COBRA premium, you will be reimbursed for those expenses retroactively. 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 that triggered your need for COBRA and your individual circumstances. It’s important to note that 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 existing 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

One way to reduce the cost of your health insurance is to use a temporary health plan, like Short Term Medical or Accident Only insurance.

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

In some states, businesses with 19 or fewer employees are required to offer a continuation of health insurance to their former employees. These state laws are similar to the federal government’s COBRA law, but they may have different deadlines for employer election notices and different lengths of time in which former employees must make a choice about their coverage. It’s important to note that these requirements can vary depending on the state in which you live.

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

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