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How To Get COBRA Insurance - A Quick Guide

Frankie Grijalva
Frankie Grijalva Golden Gate University School of Law 2L
Frankie Grijalva graduated from Whittier College in 2019 with degrees in Business Administration and Economics, is currently a 2L Law Student, and loves to oil paint in her free time.
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how to get cobra
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is temporarily given to employees in certain situations to keep the group health insurance that they would otherwise lose upon exiting a job. 

Who is entitled to COBRA? 

Individuals who have experienced qualifying events are entitled the right to pay for premiums and keep their health coverage.
The following are examples of qualifying events:
  • Voluntary or involuntary job loss 
  • Reduce work hours 
  • Transition between jobs 
  • Death 
  • Divorce 
  • And other life events that cause an individual to lose his or her group health coverage. 
Who is eligible for COBRA? 

The individual/employee must have been enrolled in employer’s health plan prior to the qualifying event occurring, even if it only one day prior

Does COBRA insurance cover my spouse and kids?

COBRA coverage is transferred to spouses, former spouses and dependent children. 

How long is COBRA coverage?

Most people can keep this insurance for up 18-months from the date of the qualifying event, depending on the event. 

You may be able to extend coverage for two reasons:

1. Disability 

If Social Security Administration determines that the disabled qualified beneficiary is disabled before the 60th day of COBRA and the disability continues throughout the 18 months of coverage then an 11-month extension may be granted for a total of 29 months maximum. 

2. Second qualifying event A second qualifying event may entitle you to another 18-month extension. 

This will give you a total of 36-months maximum. 

Are you eligible for COBRA if company closed?


Unfortunately, if there is no longer a health plan, COBRA coverage is unavailable. 

Although, for union members covered by a collective bargaining agreement, you may be entitled to continued coverage. 

How do I sign up for Cobra? 

There are two ways to sign up. 

1. You can apply for individual coverage directly through some health plans off the exchange 

2. Enroll through your employer or health insurance administrator within 60 days of the qualifying event. Once you have signed up, you have to pay your premium within 45 days of accepting the plan. 

For more help, contact your local Health Consumer Alliance Partner for free assistance in finding a plan and applying for coverage. 

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