COBRA – What is it and Why is it important?

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COBRA is the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, this act allows you and immediate family members to temporarily keep workplace health insurance under certain circumstances. COBRA comes into play if you lose or quit your job, you divorce the employee, employee death or you are no longer covered as a dependent due to age. Here is a detailed list of qualifying circumstances.

COBRA does not apply to everyone and coverage can be very expensive. COBRA doesn't apply to employees who have been let go due to gross misconduct, many religious organizations do not fall under COBRA and it only applies to employers who had 20 or more workers in the previous year. According to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, "Employees who select COBRA must pay the entire premium including the portion previously paid by their employer, plus a 2 percent administrative fee." The Insurance Commissioner website also suggests looking to the Washington Health Plan Finder before turning to COBRA to see if you are eligible for a different plan through there.

Importantly, COBRA rules are different for those 65 and over. While prior to 65 individuals can remain on COBRA for 18 months, 65 and over can only stay on COBRA for 8 months. 3 months prior to COBRA ending, individuals 65 and over need to be applying for Medicare Part A and Part B to ensure proper coverage post COBRA. Failing to apply for Part B at this time only allows people a general enrollment period from January 1 to March 31 for a July 1 effective date which often leaves people uncovered. 

Feel free to call our office at 1-800-535-1310 with any insurance questions and our office staff will be happy to help you!