COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act. Basically, COBRA allows you and/or your family to continue receiving your employer health coverage should you lose your job. But, understanding your COBRA eligibility can be difficult. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You will have to pay the entire premium, plus an additional 2% in administrative costs – your employer will no longer assist or subsidize a portion of your premium
- You can keep COBRA for up to 18 months, and in some instances, your spouse or dependents can receive 3 years of coverage
- COBRA is becoming more affordable than most other health insurance plans; however, we recommend working with an insurance agent to determine if you can receive similar coverage at a lower cost
I qualify for COBRA, now what?
After you or your employer have notified the health plan of your qualifying event, the following is typical of the election process:
- Health plan must provide you with COBRA information within 14 days
- You and your eligible family members must elect COBRA within 60 days after you receive the above information
- Keep in mind, even you if waived COBRA, you can reelect it as long as your original 60-day period has not expired
What if I can’t afford COBRA?
We understand that COBRA costs may not be feasible, especially if you have lost your job. If you are unable to apply for coverage through your spouse’s employer or through a new employer, we recommend that you speak with our agents. We may be able to find you more affordable coverage, and can certainly help you navigate healthcare.gov, as you may be eligible for an ACA subsidy.
Choosing a non-COBRA plan
If you decide to forego COBRA and want to select a federal marketplace plan outside of Annual Open Enrollment, you must do so within 60 days before and 60 days after you lose your employer health coverage. This is called a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). We don’t want to see you without coverage, so keep in mind:
- If you do end up choosing COBRA and/or the 60-day election period has expired, you are no longer eligible for a SEP; therefore, you cannot choose a federal marketplace plan until Annual Open Enrollment.
- If this is the case, we advise you keep your COBRA until Annual Open Enrollment or until your COBRA coverage is exhausted/expired
- Once your COBRA coverage is exhausted, you will be eligible for another Special Enrollment period, during which time you have 60 days to choose a federal marketplace plan
The COBRA process can be difficult, and we advise you to reach out to your COBRA specialist or contact the Department of Labor by email at askebsa.dol.gov or by calling 1-800-444-3272, as they will be able to provide you with detailed information about your specific coverage plan as well as the cost to you. Of course, we are happy to assist you with selecting non-COBRA coverage if you need other alternatives.