Understanding COBRA coverage
Learn about coverage options if your job was impacted by COVID-19
With the impact of COVID-19, we're seeing unemployment increase across the country. If you lose your job, you may look into COBRA for health care coverage. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), a program that may help if you need coverage between jobs.
Here are common questions and answers to help you understand COBRA and other short term health insurance options that may help if you have a gap in coverage.
You may qualify for COBRA coverage if your job situation has changed in one of these ways:
- You lost your job, either voluntarily or by the decision of your company (for any reason except gross misconduct) and you have lost your health coverage
- You had the number of hours per week you work reduced so you no longer get benefits and you have lost your health coverage
If this happens, here’s a timeline you may decide to follow:
- Within 30 days of your termination date your employer will notify your plan of the change of employment status.
- Within 14 days after your employer’s notice is received by your plan, you’ll get a letter from your COBRA administrator about the COBRA1 continuation coverage that’s available to you.
- Within 60 days, you’ll need to decide whether to sign up for health care coverage with the COBRA administrator.
If there is no longer a health plan, COBRA would not apply and you would need to look at other coverage options.
You may be able to get health care coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. It may also cost less than COBRA continuation coverage. There are special enrollment periods available if your job situation has caused you to have lost your coverage.
You can also compare costs to see if a short term insurance plan would work for your needs. Standard short term health insurance plans may help you fill a gap in coverage from 1 month to just under a year.2
COBRA is a short-term health care insurance that’s usually available for up to 18 months after the termination date of your job . (In some situations, COBRA coverage may extend beyond 18 months.)
You can get COBRA coverage if you worked for a business that employs 20 people or more. There are exceptions to this, so please call your COBRA administrator to get more information.
With COBRA, you can continue the same health care coverage through the plan you had when you were employed. That may include medical, dental and vision plans. If you choose to sign up for COBRA health care coverage, you won’t be able to choose a new plan or change the coverage you had under that plan until the next open enrollment, if your employer offers an open enrollment to active participants. You will be asked to choose and pay for the same health care coverage you had with the plan you were under when you were employed. For example, if you had a medical plan and a dental plan, you can keep one or both of them. But you wouldn’t be able to add a vision plan or change certain benefits within your medical plan if it wasn’t part of your plan before COBRA.
Your COBRA administrator should tell you within 14 days about the COBRA1 continuation coverage that’s available to you. Then you will have 60 days to decide whether to sign up.
Under COBRA you’ll have to pay the full premium for your health care coverage, plus an administrative fee. When you were employed, your employer generally paid for some of the cost of your health insurance premium, and now you will responsible for the full amount That means you may pay more for COBRA coverage.
Short term health insurance
In times of change, find short term solutions that help you bridge the gap.
We’re committed to keeping you up to date on COVID-19. We’re taking note of your questions and working hard to provide answers. Let us know how we’re doing.
We’re making daily updates to the site. Please check back often for the latest information.
- Read more about COBRA health coverage from the United States Department of Labor under COBRA Continuation Coverage. Personal insurance is not the same as COBRA, so review your COBRA information carefully. Your time to elect COBRA is limited by law. Failure to elect and exhaust COBRA will eliminate HIPAA eligibility. You may have additional rights under state law.
- Product design and availability vary by state. Term lengths available vary by state.