What is COBRA?
COBRA came into being in 1985 with the passage of the health benefits provisions in the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). The passage and enforcement of COBRA allows employees and their dependents to continue employer group health insurance for several months when that insurance would usually end. Insurance plans under COBRA are private health plans, not plans sold by the government.
Who is eligible for COBRA?
Listed below are the basic eligibility requirements to enroll in COBRA.
- An employee who has worked at least 50% of the working days in the previous calendar year.
- An eligible employee's spouse or dependent child.
- The eligible person must have been covered by the group health plan on the day before a "qualifying event."
Review our factsheet on COBRA (Continuation of Employer Group Health Insurance) for more information on COBRA eligibility and cost.
How Medicare Affects COBRA
If you already have Medicare coverage on or before the date you became eligible for COBRA, you can take COBRA coverage along with Medicare. Medicare is primary, so you will need to enroll in Medicare Part B to avoid later penalties.
Your employer can terminate COBRA coverage if you become eligible for Medicare after qualifying for COBRA.
If you are not currently working, you should enroll in Medicare when you become eligible for it. If you don’t enroll, you may be charged penalties for enrolling late, and your Medicare coverage could be delayed for many months.