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How Long Can You Stay On COBRA (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Approximately Two Years

COBRA is a commonly used acronym for The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of the United States of America. This facilitates the staying of an employee in their employer’s group insurance plan, even when they leave their job.

This act gives the employees and their families the freedom to decide on continuing group health services given by their group health program. Such benefits are for a specific period and are subject to certain conditions like job loss, loss of work hours, death, divorce, or any other reason. COBRA is an outline for both employers and employees indicating the options and course of action available to them.

How Long Can You Stay On COBRA?

Conditions of CoverageTime Insured for
Employees
A. Under normal circumstance18 Months
B. In case of disability29 Months
Employees’ Families36 Months

COBRA is a great way to keep the employees and their families under health cover even if they leave the job due to any reason. The time for which the employees and their respective families are covered under the group health insurance cover of the employer differs based on the prevailing circumstances.

It may be that there is a decrease in the work hours of the employees or the employee retires, either voluntarily or involuntarily. In such cases, the employee becomes eligible for COBRA. Their health coverage is continued from that qualifying event to a period of eighteen months or one and a half years.

Moreover, if these employees happen to contract a disability, they happen to receive health coverage for an additional eleven months. Thus, the total period of continued health insurance coverage for them stands at twenty-nine months. However, this extension is subject to the condition that the employee acquires the disability and the particular disability is determined by the Social Security Administration.

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The family of the employees, particularly their spouse and children, is also covered in this health cover. They are initially subject to an eighteen-month COBRA health cover which can be extended for another eighteen months. This is on the condition that the second qualifying event takes place during the first COBRA cover and that event cannot be a job loss or loss of job working hours.

Why You Can Stay On COBRA For So Long?

The COBRA scheme of the US government is helpful to the employees and their immediate families in meeting the health expenses. This helps the employees in facing tough and unplanned health issues, both of themselves and those of immediate relatives.

The COBRA scheme is designed to help the workers in the American workforce who either have quit the job or are facing a loss of working hours on the job. They experience a loss of possible income and this act helps to make sure that they do not have to worry about any health issues or any impending health crisis.

The COBRA scheme is also valid to be extended to any employee who suffers from conditions like the death of the covered employee or divorce or legal separation between the employee and their spouse. Moreover, the scheme is also applicable in the case of loss of dependent child status under the plan rules or the covered employee under Medicare.

However, the COBRA coverage can be canceled anytime if the employer has terminated all his group health plans or when the participant has health coverage from any other plan. Moreover, if the participant is unable to pay their COBRA premium at the time, their coverage is subject to termination.

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Conclusion

COBRA is an American employee group health insurance enabler act. This policy comes into play if the employee can qualify for any of the events set for this purpose. The COBRA act ensures that the employee is covered in the employer’s group insurance plan even after quitting the job.

Under normal cases, this coverage is for 18 months, but if the employee develops a disability, they are eligible for group insurance for another eleven months. If the employee passes another qualifying event within the first 18 months, the employee is eligible for 18 months of COBRA coverage.

References

  1. https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/ssbul49&div=70&id=&page=
  2. https://europepmc.org/article/med/9592924
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