How Do You Sign Up For COBRA Insurance?
Depending on your situation, if your work health insurance is ending, the COBRA law allows you to keep that plan.
How do I apply for COBRA health insurance to avoid a gap in medical coverage?
How To Get COBRA
- Check Your Eligibility. You may qualify for COBRA health insurance if you experience a job termination, reduction in hours, divorce or widowhood. Check if you qualify by taking the COBRA eligibility survey.
- Read The COBRA Election Notice. The employer will send you a COBRA election notice within 45 days of the qualifying event. This notice will tell you how much COBRA insurance will cost and how to apply.
- Enrollment In COBRA. You have a 60-day special enrollment period to sign up. Follow the instructions in your election notice on how to restart your most recent employer health plan.
- Pay Your Premiums. You will have 45 days to pay your insurance premiums. Non-payment will result in cancellation.
Applying For COBRA Insurance
Employers offering COBRA coverage have different methods for enrollment.
Some may use third-party administrators with online registration, while others may use traditional paper methods through their HR department.
Missing Your Election Notice?
If you lose your COBRA enrollment paperwork, contact the former employer’s Human Resources department or the COBRA administrator as soon as possible. Ask them to send you a new copy.
What Is COBRA?
COBRA continuation coverage is a federal law that requires businesses with 20 or more full-time employees to make available their group major medical plan to former covered employees and their qualified beneficiaries should that insurance stop due to a qualifying event.
COBRA Enrollment Deadlines
After your work insurance stops, you will have a special open enrollment period to enroll in health insurance. The following are the deadlines for enrolling in COBRA.
Employer Notice Must Be Sent Within 45 Days
Applying for COBRA begins with the employer who provided the health plan to notify you of your right to continuation. The employer has 30 days to notify the group health plan of the qualifying event. After that, the employer has 14 days to notify you of your COBRA right to keep your work health insurance.
In total, the employer has 45 days to send the COBRA election notice to continue your health plan.
Non-Compliance By Employer
Employers with 20 or more full-time workers are compelled by law to offer you a continuation of your most recent health insurance plan.
If the business fails to send you a notification, your first step should be to contact their HR Department and ask for their COBRA Administrator to send your notice of continuation for enrollment.
If the employer fails to send the paperwork in a timely manner, you may file a report with the Department of Labor.
You Have 60 Days To Sign Up For COBRA And Enroll
Once you receive your COBRA enrollment forms from your previous employer, you have 60 days to elect the plan or waive your right to continue. If you have questions regarding how to re-enroll, you’ll want to reach out to the employer’s human resources department and ask for the COBRA Administrator.
Why Sign Up For COBRA?
Your former work health insurance is Affordable Care Act certified. The most important reason to get COBRA is, that it’s a major medical policy that provides coverage for pre-existing conditions that result in procedures and visits to medical providers.
When Does Coverage Begin?
Your COBRA insurance will start immediately after making your first premium payment. The coverage is retroactive, to the date the plan initially stopped. There will not be a lapse or gap in your coverage.
If you have incurred out-of-pocket expenses between the time the coverage stopped and then started, you may be reimbursed by your carrier.
The Cost Of Coverage
Expect the COBRA premium to cost the same as major medical insurance, also known as Obamacare, which averages $400 – $700/month, per individual.
You can calculate your monthly cost based on your previous paycheck contributions and the amount the employer had subsidized.