What is COBRA? COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which is a federal law that allows you and any of your immediate family members to stay on your employer’s health plan under certain circumstances :
- You lose or quit your job
- You get a divorce
- The employee dies
- You are no longer covered as a dependent due to your age
COBRA can be expensive. People who choose COBRA coverage must pay the entire premium, including the portion previously paid by the employer, plus a 2 percent administrative fee. Be warned, if you enroll in COBRA and later on want to switch to a health plan directly to an insurance company or through the Washington Healthplanfinder, you will have to wait until the next open enrollment period if you don’t qualify for a special enrollment.
Options other than COBRA
Before you decide to go with COBRA, find out if you can buy a health plan through the Washington Healthplanfinder and receive a subsidy to help pay your insurance premiums. You can also purchase coverage directly from an insurance company, broker or agent if you don’t qualify for any subsidies.
If you choose a health insurance plan, you likely will be responsible for a full yearly deductible. Generally, health insurance deductibles are not prorated for partial-year enrollees, no matter how few months are left in the plan year. Individual or family qualified health plans operate on a calendar year, from January through December. There is no way to transfer the money you spent toward another plan’s deductible when you switch plans mid-year.
Read more about losing your health insurance on our website. Questions? Contact our consumer advocates online or at 1-800-562-6900.
For COBRA- specific laws and questions, contact:
U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration
Seattle District Office
300 Fifth Ave., Ste. 1110
Seattle, WA 98104