COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) is a federal law that allows you and any of your immediate family members to stay on an employer-sponsored health plan under certain circumstances.
- You lose or quit your job.
- You divorce the employee.
- The employee dies.
- You are no longer covered as a dependent due to your age.
For a detailed list of qualifying events, go to the U.S. Dept. of Labor's website (www.dol.gov).
COBRA doesn't apply to everyone
- COBRA applies only to employers who had 20 or more workers in the previous year.
- State and local governments fall under COBRA, but federal plans and certain religious organizations do not.
Note: Federal employees do have some similar rights under another law. Ask your human resource department for more information.
- COBRA generally does not apply to employees who are terminated for “gross misconduct.”
Coverage can be expensive
- Employees who select COBRA must pay the entire premium including the portion previously paid by their employer, plus a 2% administrative fee.
- Instead of COBRA, see if you qualify to buy a health plan through the Washington Healthplanfinder (www.wahealthplanfinder.org) and receive a subsidy to help pay your insurance premiums.
- If you enroll in COBRA and later on decide to switch to a health plan through the Washington Healthplanfinder, you may have to wait until the next open enrollment period.
Where to go for more help
|General COBRA questions||COBRA laws and specific questions||Public sector employees with COBRA questions|
Call our Insurance Consumer Hotline
U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Seattle District Office
300 Fifth Ave., Ste. 1110
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
7500 Security Blvd.