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COBRA Insurance provides you with extended health insurance coverage if you lose your job. It is not designed to be permanent health insurance coverage however.
What Should I Know about COBRA insurance?
COBRA is also known as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. COBRA is a federal law that makes sure a person's health insurance coverage will not discontinue if that person loses his or her job. COBRA mandates that this health insurance coverage continues for up to 18 months after losing a job.
Most companies that provide group health insurance to employees are governed by COBRA. Certain situations can require that this 18 month deadline is extended to 29 months and even as long as 36 months.
What Are and Who Benefits from COBRA Health Insurance Coverage?
The COBRA insurance is designed to protect those folks who have lost their job from losing their health insurance benefits as well. COBRA is designed as a temporary coverage that was put into place to help those get through this difficult period.
Not every employee who is terminated qualifies for COBRA. However all employers should know whether or not these rules apply to their employees and their company.
The COBRA health insurance law enables an employee who is terminated to buy health insurance for herself and for her family if her family was covered while she was employed. The COBRA law enables the employee to purchase health insurance coverage at a group rate even though she is no longer employed by the company and no longer part of the group.
The price of the coverage is high however and the former employee is responsible for paying all or 100% of the cost of health insurance coverage each month in addition to a 2% surcharge.
COBRA becomes available to an employee when that employee is terminated, laid off, or otherwise has a change in employment status. This change in employment status extends to family members originally covered by the employers health insurance plan and includes divorce from or death of the former eligible employee.
COBRA health insurance coverage continues during the time mentioned above or until the employee who is terminated becomes covered by another health insurance plan or another group health insurance plan.
The law requires employers to notify eligible former employees concerning the option to purchase their health insurance from the COBRA health insurance plan. The law also requires employers to specify the cost of this health insurance coverage.
Those folks who receive this notification from their former employers must decide within 60 days as to whether or not to accept COBRA.
During the period of time terminated employees are participating in the COBRA health insurance plan, they need not worry about a change in their benefits during this period. The health insurance coverage itself does not change. The only change is the party responsible for paying the monthly premium which is now the ex-employee.
If there were family members covered before the employee's termination, these folks also remained covered during the course of COBRA. If the former employer changes the health insurance plan it is offering to its current employees, the coverage afforded a COBRA health insurance plan participate may also change at this time.
Keep in Mind that COBRA was Designed to be Temporary Health Insurance Coverage Only
You must keep in mind that COBRA is only intended to be used as temporary health insurance coverage. The only thing that COBRA guarantees is that you will not go without health insurance for 18 months.
Once 18 months expires however, you will no longer be covered by health insurance if you have not made other health insurance arrangements on your own ... either by obtaining an individual health insurance policy or from a new employer.
Another thing you must keep in mind is that during this COBRA health insurance coverage, a serious medical condition while covered under COBRA, could later render you uninsurable as a pre-existing condition.
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