COBRA allows employees to keep their healthcare coverage under their employer’s group plan after they experience a qualifying event that would result in loss of coverage.
Generally, companies that employ at least 20 people for more than half of its business days during the previous year must offer continuing coverage. COBRA also applies to group health plans sponsored by most state and local governments.
Some plans, like those sponsored by the Federal Government or by churches and church-related organizations, are not required to offer COBRA.
A qualifying event that could make you lose your group insurance include:
To be eligible for COBRA, you must have been covered by your employer’s group plan before the qualifying event. This rule also applies to your dependents (spouse and/or children).
You (or your dependents) pay for COBRA. If the employer subsidized part of the premium (paid for part), you must pay that amount as well as your share.
You do not have to elect COBRA. You can shop around for other insurance coverage, including on exchanges setup by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
COBRA coverage lasts a maximum of 18 months. In some cases, you can get an 18 month extension (total 36 months).
As long as you were covered under the specific plan – health, vision, dental, etc. – you can pick and choose which coverages to keep. You can also choose who continues to receive coverage if you have dependents on your plan.