Contrary to what many people think, COBRA which stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, isn’t actually health insurance at all, but a set of laws to help ensure you have access to employer-provided health insurance when you might otherwise lose it.
COBRA protects individuals who would otherwise lose access to an employer-provided health insurance plan, as well as any dependents who are covered by that plan (such as a spouse or a child).
In order to qualify for COBRA, the employer that was providing the health insurance needs to meet certain requirements, such as:
- the employer needs to be in the private sector, or a state or local government
- the employer needs to employ at least 20 people for at least 50% of the year
Individual & Employee Requirements
For the individual, a “qualifying event” needs to have taken place, such as:
- the loss of a job, whether voluntary or involuntary
- a reduction in the employee’s hours as a result of strike or a slowdown in business
- medical leave or even death of the covered employee
- divorce or legal separation that terminates the ex-spouse’s eligibility for benefits
- a dependent child turning 26
When to Apply for COBRA & How Long It Lasts
Your window of time to exercise COBRA is limited and time-sensitive, so pay attention to deadlines. You usually have 59 days to request COBRA, and then 45 days to pay the first premium. Coverage can last up to 18 months for employees, and up to 36 months for dependents.
If you’re unsure about COBRA deadlines, qualifications, or even alternatives, contact us today. Our services are always free and we’re delighted to help.