COBRA Insurance Information

Assisting workers and families with temporary insurance options after their employer-based health coverage ends.

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Employer COBRA

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What Is COBRA?

COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, is a federal law that allows workers and their families to continue their employer-provided health insurance after specific life events, such as job loss or reduced work hours, for a limited time.

Qualified individuals can temporarily keep their group health coverage, but they may need to pay up to 102% of the premium. This ensures that even when coverage would otherwise end, individuals and their families can maintain their health benefits during transitional periods.

Learn The Rules Of COBRA

Learn more about the rules of COBRA insurance and how it can support you and your family during important life transitions.

Full Guide To COBRA 

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. Your employer is required to inform you about the availability of COBRA benefits and how to access them following a qualifying event.

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.

How Do You Get COBRA?

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.

Employer Size

In addition to a qualifying event, continuation of the health plan is in part dependent on the size of the employer. The business must have had 20 or more employees in the previous year.

Qualifying Events & Eligibility

Qualifying events trigger your eligibility for COBRA insurance and can range from voluntary or involuntary job loss to transitions between jobs. Other events such as a reduction in work hours, death, and divorce also qualify. Understanding these events is essential for knowing when you can opt for COBRA coverage to maintain your health benefits.

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Eligibility Topics

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

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Your Federal COBRA 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 employer’s Human Resources Department that provided your most recent employer health insurance. They will be able to point you in the right direction.

How Much Does COBRA Cost?

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.

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. Mini-COBRA coverage may have a shorter duration based on state laws.

COBRA is a temporary solution. You will need to find other health insurance coverage once your COBRA insurance period runs out — for example, signing up for marketplace insurance.

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 Insurance Between Jobs

Finding yourself between jobs requires obtaining health insurance to protect against high medical costs. Carefully consider your choices to make an informed decision during this transitional period.

Short-term health insurance and marketplace plans or Obamacare are affordable solutions for those needing coverage over a brief period — for example, between jobs or as you wait for your new insurance policy to begin.

While Medicaid constitutes one alternative based on income, marketplace insurance tends to be the most affordable, comprehensive and convenient and offers access to a wide range of plans. Just as with COBRA, you have a limited window for enrolling in marketplace coverage following a qualifying event.

Can’t Decide Between COBRA or Private Coverage?

Refer to our guide, “When To Choose COBRA, When To Choose An Alternative.” Your health and well-being matter to us, and we’re here to assist you in finding the best coverage.

Availability of Mini-COBRA in Select States

In many states, businesses with a workforce of 19 or fewer employees are obligated to offer continued health insurance coverage to former employees, similar to the federal COBRA regulations. Please be aware that the deadlines and time frames for making a decision about coverage may differ based on state laws.

Find your state in the COBRA State-by-State Guide.

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