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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Back to ACA Health Insurance Terms List

COBRA (The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act)

COBRA is a federal law that gives you the right to keep the health insurance you had from an employer if:

  • You lost your job.

  • You quit your job.

  • Your hours were reduced so you no longer were eligible for your employer’s insurance.

  • You have a gap as you leave a job and start a new one.

  • You lost coverage because the covered employee – such as you or your spouse -- started Medicare.

  • You’ve had some other event that led to you losing health insurance.

COBRA is also available to spouses, former spouses, and dependent children.

You have 63 days to decide if you want to continue your coverage through COBRA. If you do, your monthly premium will cost more than the amount that was taken out of your paycheck. That's because you also have to pay the part your employer had previously covered. On average, employers pay roughly 73% of the health insurance tab for employees, and about 71% for family plans. You may also pay a 2% administrative fee (in some states/cases the fee can be higher). Added together, this may be more than double what you used to pay as an employee for the same benefits.

Under COBRA, you continue with the same health plan you had through your employer. That means what you pay for a doctor's appointment or prescription is the same as it was when you were employed.

In general, you can stay on COBRA a maximum of 18 months.


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