COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. It's a federal law that allows individuals known as qualified beneficiaries to continue the same health care coverage they had the day before they experienced their qualifying event.
Qualified beneficiaries have the right to elect COBRA coverage. Generally, anyone who was covered under an employer's group health plan the day before a qualifying event occurs is a qualified beneficiary. There are special rules that allow other individuals to be qualified beneficiaries too, such as children born to or placed for adoption with a qualified beneficiary during a period of COBRA coverage.
COBRA is "continuation coverage." That's simply continuing the same coverage you had the day before you lost your coverage. If you choose to elect COBRA coverage, you can't be denied coverage based on your medical history, and you're not required to provide proof of insurability.
COBRA coverage is available for 18, 29, or 36 months, depending on the qualifying event(s) you experience.
To keep your coverage, you are generally required to pay the full cost of your coverage plus an additional 2 percent administrative fee. This amount may seem a lot higher than you expected. That's because you're now responsible for the full premium charged by your insurance carrier, which includes the portion that your employer used to pay on your behalf before your qualifying event.
UnifyHR helps employers administer their COBRA programs. If your employer (or former employer) uses our COBRA services, you will receive notices and other information from us.
There's a lot to know about COBRA, so we've put together a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers to help you learn more. Click the button below to view our COBRA FAQs.
You can also learn more by downloading "An Employee's Guide to Health Benefits Under COBRA," a brochure published by the Department of Labor (link opens a PDF file on the Department of Labor website).