So, you have lost your job because of a layoff — what now? Although you have probably taken action to obtain unemployment benefits, you may not realize that your health insurance is also about to expire. You can protect yourself and your family by utilizing the COBRA continuation of benefits insurance program, which allows for the continuation of health care benefits even after you leave a company. COBRA is available for those who have been fired or who have chosen to quit their jobs, as well. Employees who do not qualify include those who have been fired because of gross misconduct such as gender discrimination and other types of workplace discrimination.
Am I eligible to receive ongoing COBRA coverage? Employees must have enrolled in their employer’s health plan, and the health plan must still be offered for the employees who remain at the firm. You may receive COBRA health insurance if a life event would prevent you from obtaining health insurance through any other system.These life events include losing your job, along with experiencing a reduction in your work hours or becoming eligible for a government program such as Medicare.
How does COBRA work? This program covers group health plans at employers with at least 20 active workers who perform work at least 50 percent of the business days in the previous year. Full- and part-time employees are both considered when determining whether a business is in the COBRA system. Coverage is made available to you at the same level that you had been receiving prior to the qualifying life event. COBRA is available to beneficiaries for periods of either 18 or 36 months.
What happens if I’m having difficulty obtaining my COBRA benefits? You may be the victim of workplace discrimination if your employer refuses to provide you with the COBRA benefits you deserve. You may have to take legal action to obtain your benefits, depending on your individual situation.
Source: United States Department of Labor, “FAQs about COBRA Continuation Health Coverage,” accessed Oct. 15, 2015