Simply stated, COBRA is temporary health insurance that is available to help continue the coverage offered by your employer’s group policy in the event you lose your job or are terminated. The term is an acronym standing for Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act.
A government employee or an employee of a company that has at least 20 full-time employees can opt to accept COBRA health insurance when employment ends, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. COBRA coverage is also available to family members who were receiving health insurance coverage under the employer’s plan. Spouses, former spouses, and dependent children can all qualify to receive COBRA health insurance.
The cost of COBRA can be quite high. When receiving COBRA insurance, you may be expected to pay both your own portion of the premium (which you were paying as an employee, spouse, or dependent) and also the company’s portion (if the company paid part of your premium on your behalf). In addition to bearing 100% of the burden of the premium, you may also be required to pay up to an additional 2% for administrative costs. Also, COBRA health insurance is generally only available for 18 months.
An Affordable Alternative to COBRA Health Insurance:
Since a move to COBRA often means more money out of your pocket, signing up for coverage through the federal marketplace (with advanced premium tax credits available for those who qualify) will be a much more affordable option for many. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina® offer excellent insurance plans through the marketplace which often make available better coverage at a lower cost than COBRA coverage.
If you or a family member recently lost your job and are considering COBRA insurance, or if your current COBRA coverage eligibility is coming to an end, then you may qualify for a special enrollment period and will not need to wait for an annual open enrollment period in order to begin coverage. A few moments with a qualified agent at WNC Health Insurance / The Asheville Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina® Store to discuss your options will be time well invested!
Learn more about the specifics of COBRA at The Department of Labor’s website.