Eligibility For COBRA Continuation Insurance

The Federal COBRA Act gives workers and their dependents the right to continue their employer-sponsored health insurance, if that coverage would end due to a qualifying event such as job loss or family circumstances.

What Makes Me Eligible For COBRA?

After a qualifying event for you or your family and as long as you were enrolled in a group health plan by your former employer, you are eligible for COBRA benefits. This means if you were only insured for 1 day and are let go or quit your job you are entitled to keep the same health insurance after.

What Is A Qualifying Event?

Qualifying events are certain events that would cause an individual to lose health coverage. The type of qualifying event will determine who the qualified beneficiaries are and the amount of time that a plan must offer the health coverage to them under COBRA. A plan, at its discretion, may provide longer periods of continuation coverage.

Small Businesses Are Exempt

In general, COBRA is required of all employers with 20 or more employees. Depending on the state you live in, businesses with fewer than 20 workers may be required to offer the same workplace health insurance they had while employed. If you work for a small business you will want to check if your state has a mini-COBRA law to find out if you are eligible.

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Qualifying Events For Employees In The Workplace

These events apply to the covered individual who holds employer-sponsored health insurance. These events allow you stay covered for up to 18 months.

You Quit Your Job

You are covered under COBRA if you quit your job voluntarily. This protects workers and their qualified dependents with continuing health coverage after the covered beneficiary decides to stop working.

You Were Laid Off Or Fired From Your Job

Except in the case of gross misconduct, COBRA must be extended to employees that were involuntarily terminated.

Hours Reduced That Would Result In Loss Of Health Insurance

If a requirement of your employer-sponsored insurance is that you work a minimum number hours per week and your scheduled less time, the COBRA law requires the business to provide you an option to continue your same insurance.

Qualifying Events For Spouses and Dependent Children

These events apply when there is a relationship change between the insurance policy dependents and the covered employee. In these situations, you may have COBRA coverage for up to 36 months. 

If You Lost Insurance Due To Legal Separation Or Divorce

While you are working and if your family changes due to divorce, annulment, termination of a domestic partnership, or legal separation the covered spouse or added dependents are able to elect COBRA insurance. Make sure to keep your plan administrator in the loop on the dates you need to stop coverage when family separates. Your employer should then provide your added spouse or domestic partner the same coverage they had while you were together.

You've Turned 26 And No Longer Covered Under Guardian's Policy (Loss Of Dependent Status)

The Affordable Care Act requires that adult children are able to stay on their parent’s employer-sponsored insurance until they are 26 years of age. At that point, the dependent must find new health insurance. When you have been dropped from your guardian’s policy, you may continue that insurance through your right to COBRA continuation.

Death Of The Covered Employee

If the unfortunate happens the COBRA law provides that widows and qualified dependents are able to continue the same group workplace insurance they had previously.

How Long Can You Stay On COBRA?

18 or 36 Months
When a workplace event separates you from your job, you are allowed up to 18 months on your extended COBRA insurance plan. When the qualifying event ends up with separation in the family, the spouses or dependents are given the right to extend insurance benefits up to 36 months.


Qualifying COBRA Event ​Length of Continuation Coverage
​Reduction of Hours (resulting in loss of coverage) ​18 Months
​Voluntary Termination of Employment (quitting your job) ​18 Months
​Involuntary Termination of Employment (getting fired from job) ​18 Months
​Divorce, Annulment, Termination of Domestic Partnership, or Legal Separation ​36 Months
​Child ceases to be a Dependent (e.g. child turns 26) ​36 Months
​Death of Employee ​36 Months
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The COBRA Insurance website helps workers with their insurance options while in-between jobs. If you need further assistance, please speak with our Licensed Insurance Experts.

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