Understanding COBRA coverage

Learn about coverage options if your health insurance through your job was impacted by COVID-19

With the impact of COVID-19, we're seeing unemployment increase across the country. If you lose your job, become furloughed or experience reduced hours and it changes your health insurance coverage, you may look into COBRA for health care coverage. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), a program that may help if you need coverage between jobs.

COBRA timelines are extended

Due to the COVID-19 National Emergency, timelines used by group health plans for continuation of health care coverage (COBRA) have been extended — starting on March 1, 2020, until sixty (60) days after the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency (the “Outbreak Period”).   

In other words, until the government declares the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency, COBRA coverage will operate with the following new timelines in place. 

Revised COBRA timelines during the COVID-19 National Emergency

  • With the changed timelines, your 60-day election period is extended until 60 days following the end of the Outbreak Period. You can elect coverage and enroll any time during the Outbreak Period and must do this if you want active coverage. 
  • If you elect coverage, your coverage will be in effect during the Outbreak Period, even if you don’t make a premium payment. Keep in mind, however, that your claims may not be paid if you are not current on your premium payment. Your coverage will be with your Employer’s group health plan.
  • You will receive a statement for your premiums due each month. However, a grace period is in effect, so you aren’t required to make a payment until 30 days after the end of the Outbreak Period (this date is not yet set and will be determined by a government decision). You may still make your monthly payments each month during the Outbreak Period.
  • Payment in full for each month of coverage during the Outbreak Period will be due 30 days after the end of the Outbreak Period (this date is not yet set and will be determined by a government decision). If payment is not made, your coverage will end, and you may be responsible for claims paid during that time period.

COBRA frequently asked questions

If you have general questions about COBRA, here are some common questions and answers to help guide you on COBRA and other short term health insurance options that may help if you have a gap in coverage.

Short term health insurance

In times of change, find short term solutions that help you bridge the gap.

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We’re committed to keeping you up to date on COVID-19. We’re taking note of your questions and working hard to provide answers. Let us know how we’re doing.

We’re making daily updates to the site. Please check back often for the latest information. 

Footnotes

  1. Product design and availability vary by state. Term lengths available vary by state.
  2. Part A and Part B Sign up periods, medicare.gov
  3. Read more about COBRA health coverage from the United States Department of Labor at COBRA Continuation Coverage. Personal or individual insurance is not the same as COBRA, so review your health insurance information carefully. Your time to elect COBRA is limited by law. Failure to elect and exhaust COBRA may eliminate your eligibility to enroll under HIPAA portability. You may have additional rights under state law.