What is COBRA insurance?

What is COBRA insurance?

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act is referred to as COBRA. Those who lose their jobs or face another qualifying event may be able to extend their current health insurance coverage for a set period of time under federal legislation that was established in 1985. Employers outside of the federal government are obligated to provide eligible employees with COBRA coverage if they have more than 20 employees.

How do you qualify for COBRA health insurance?

Only specific circumstances permit the use of COBRA health insurance. These circumstances are often known as “qualifying events.” How can you tell if you qualify? The following are eligible for COBRA:

As an employee:

You had to have been employed and enrolled in a group health plan through your company.

Your company must no longer be compelled to provide group health insurance for you if you have been laid off, dismissed, retired, quit your job, or had your work hours reduced to that degree.

As a dependent:

You can be qualified for COBRA as well if you are a dependent of someone who meets the criteria listed above.

  • You might be eligible if you’re the employee’s spouse who divorces or files for legal separation.
  • A deceased employee’s spouse may also be eligible for COBRA benefits.
  • You can speak with the human resources division of your employer if you’re unsure if you qualify for COBRA. You can also get in touch with the health plan’s insurance provider.

Under certain conditions, such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, a reduction in hours worked, a change in employment, death, divorce, and other life events, workers and their families who lose their health benefits have the option to continue receiving group health benefits from their group health plan for a set period of time. A qualified person may be compelled to pay the whole premium for coverage, up to a maximum of 102% of the plan’s cost.

Group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees in the previous year are generally required by COBRA to provide employees and their families with the option of a temporary extension of health coverage (referred to as continuation coverage) in some circumstances where coverage under the plan would otherwise end.

Employees and family members might choose to continue their coverage in accordance with COBRA. Additionally, employers and plans must give notification.

When an employee leaves their job or has their work hours reduced, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), a health insurance programme, permits eligible employees and their families to continue receiving the benefits of health insurance coverage. The fundamentals of COBRA, including its operation, eligibility requirements, advantages and disadvantages, and other characteristics, are covered below.


The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, gives qualified workers and their dependents the choice of continuing health insurance coverage when a worker leaves their job or has their work hours reduced.

Normally, COBRA coverage must be made available to employers who have 20 or more full-time equivalent workers.

Depending on the circumstances, COBRA’s health insurance coverage is only available for a limited time of 18 or 36 months.

Due to the fact that the newly unemployed person is responsible for covering the entire cost of the insurance, COBRA coverage is typically expensive (employers usually pay a significant portion of healthcare premiums for employees).

During the 2020 economic crisis, if you lost your health insurance due to a job loss, you are eligible for a “special enrollment” period on the federal exchange, giving you 60 days to enrol. This could be a strategy to discover a COBRA substitute that is more affordable.

For those who meet the requirements, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 offers 100% COBRA premium coverage from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021.

What Is COBRA Health Insurance?

A portion of the insurance premiums must be paid by large businesses in the US that employs 50 or more full-time workers in order to offer health insurance to their qualified employees.

The company may stop contributing to the employee’s insurance premiums if the employee no longer qualifies for the employer’s health insurance benefits, which can occur for a number of reasons (including being fired or working fewer than the required number of hours per week). In that situation, COBRA enables an employee and their dependents to continue with the same insurance coverage for a short time as long as they are prepared to pay for it independently.

Former coworkers, spouses, ex-spouses, and dependent children must be given the choice to continue their group health insurance coverage under COBRA, which would otherwise be cancelled. Because the employer will no longer contribute to the cost of the premiums, these individuals will likely pay more for health insurance coverage through COBRA than they did as workers. However, COBRA coverage may be less expensive than an individual insurance plan.

It’s crucial to remember that COBRA is a health insurance programme, and certain plans may pay for expenses like prescription medication, dental work, and vision care. It excludes disability insurance as well as life insurance.

What is COBRA health insurance?

Your employer’s insurance and your COBRA health insurance are the same. Simply put, “having COBRA insurance” means that, following a qualifying life event, you and your covered family members will continue to use your employer’s group insurance.

Qualifying life events are alterations in your circumstances that could cause you or a member of your family to no longer be covered by your employer’s group health plan. Examples include:

  • Termination of the insured employee from employment
  • becoming a Medicare-eligible insured employee
  • Divorce of the covered employee
  • the passing of the insured employee whose family was protected by the policy
  • The child of the insured employee turns 26 and outgrows family coverage.

What is my deadline to enrol in COBRA?

Your employer must provide COBRA information to you within 44 days after the later of your last day of employment or your last day of insurance coverage. However, it’s a wise move to speak with your benefits manager a few weeks after you depart.

Once your benefits expire, you’ll have 60 days to sign up for COBRA or another health plan. However, bear in mind that delaying enrollment won’t result in cost savings. You must pay your rates for the entire COBRA time because it always goes back to the day your prior coverage ended. One benefit of signing up right away is that your coverage won’t lapse as you continue to visit doctors and fill prescriptions.

You are able to preserve all of your prior benefits through COBRA. Your plan cannot be altered at this time. However, if you’re still enrolled in COBRA at the time of the subsequent open enrollment, you can select another plan from those that your previous employer provides to its employees. The new strategy shall go into action on January 1st.

COBRA doesn’t apply to everyone

  • Employers who had 20 or more employees the year prior are only eligible for COBRA.
  • COBRA applies to state and local governments, but not to federal programmes or some religious groups. Similar rights are granted to federal employees by another law. Get additional information by contacting your human resources department.
  • For the most part, COBRA does not apply to workers who are fired for “gross misbehaviour.”

Coverage can be expensive

When choosing COBRA, employees are required to pay the whole premium, including the portion that was previously covered by their employer, plus a 2% administration charge.

Check to see if you are eligible to purchase a health plan through the Washington Healthplanfinder (www.wahealthplanfinder.org) and get a subsidy to help with your insurance payments. This would be an alternative to COBRA.

You might have to wait until the following open enrollment season if you sign up for COBRA and then wish to switch to a health plan through the Washington Healthplanfinder.


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