Health Benefits When Employment Ends – COBRA

Health benefits after employment COBRA Insurance Are you familiar with cobra insurance? Many employees covered by health insurance plans can continue to get health benefits for a limited time after they lose their jobs. That right comes from a federal law called the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (“COBRA”).

Any company with 20 or more employees that has a health insurance plan for its employees. Smaller companies might be covered by state laws similar to COBRA.

Do I have to lose my job to get COBRA benefits?

No. Even if you are still employed but have been removed from the payroll for some reason (like a long-term leave), your employer must allow you to continue your health benefits through COBRA. Can I use COBRA if I get fired? Yes – unless you are fired for doing something really bad.

What health benefits will I get under COBRA?

Your health benefits under COBRA should be identical to the health benefits you had while you were employed. Must I pay to receive health benefits under COBRA? Yes. If you choose to continue your health benefits under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, you will have to pay the employer’s monthly cost (the “group rate”) of keeping you on the plan. The amount of your premium will depend on how good your benefits are and what your employer was paying to cover you. It is almost always cheaper to pay for your health coverage through COBRA than through an individual plan.

How long do my benefits last?

Generally, you may receive COBRA insurance benefits for 18 months after you leave the payroll. How do I apply for benefits? Your employer must notify your health insurance company within fourteen days of your removal from the payroll. Your employer or health insurance company then must send you information about your COBRA rights within 30 days. You should receive information on how to apply for coverage, how much you will have to pay, and how to pay. You can still get medical attention while your COBRA forms are being processed by your employer or the insurance company, because COBRA rights are “retroactive” (i.e., they will cover you back to the date you left the payroll).

What should I do if I am denied COBRA insurance benefits?

See an attorney who specializes in employment law (an employment lawyer). For more information on cobra insurance, talk with an attorney in your area.

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