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Everything You Need to Know About COBRA Insurance Coverage

COBRA health and COBRA dental insurance is great for families who need the consistent coverage. Make sure to get all of the details here.

As of July 9, 2020, nearly 50 million Americans had filed for first-time unemployment benefits. 

More businesses are laying off workers as the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 

If you’re one of those workers who has lost your job, you may be wondering what happens to your health insurance. Being uninsured can put you and your family at risk for high health care costs. 

Hope is not lost. You can continue the insurance you had under COBRA. You can take advantage of the benefits you had while employed, including COBRA dental insurance. 

Keep reading to learn more about what your health insurance options are while you are between jobs.

What Is COBRA Coverage?

“COBRA” is an acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. It’s a federal law designed to provide relief for individuals who lose their jobs or experience another qualifying event.

COBRA allows you to continue existing medical, vision, and dental insurance coverage for a specific period. This period is typically 18 months after your last day of employment. In some circumstances, COBRA is available to individuals for up to 36 months.

How Much Do You Pay for COBRA Insurance?

Under COBRA, you’ll pay your entire insurance premium. This amount you pay will be higher than what you did while you were working since your employer is no longer responsible for some of the costs. 

An administrative fee also often applies. 

On average, COBRA insurance is 70% higher than what you’ll find on the private market.

You should expect to pay more for COBRA medical insurance due to fees and paying 100% of the premium. You’ll never have to pay a premium that exceeds the amount of coverage. 

If you’re experiencing sticker-shock, you can also enroll in an individual insurance policy instead of paying to keep your prior coverage through COBRA. You should research and weigh your options before making your decision. It’s possible to qualify for health insurance year-round.

How to Qualify for COBRA Coverage

An employer with 20 or more employees must offer COBRA coverage for individuals who qualify. To qualify, you must have been enrolled in your employers’ health insurance plan while working. The health plan must also continue to be in effect for active employees. 

If either of the following scenarios applies to you, you can qualify for COBRA:

  • You are no longer employed by your employer (for any reason other than your gross misconduct), and you have lost your health coverage 

  • Your hours have been reduced to the point that you no longer receive benefits, including your employee health coverage

Spouses and dependents can also qualify for COBRA coverage in these scenarios:

  • Coverage is provided by someone who experiences either of the above scenarios 

  • You are divorcing or legally separating from an employee whose coverage you receive

  • You are the spouse of an employee who dies while covered under the employers’ plan

Applying for COBRA Insurance

Before you may apply for COBRA coverage, you must confirm that you’re eligible according to the above requirements. Usually, you will receive a letter from your employer or a health employer outlining your COBRA benefits. 

The notification you receive will have a large amount of required legal information and complex language—some people find this hard to understand. If you’re confused about whether you are eligible or don’t know how to begin coverage through the program, contact your insurer or former HR department. 

If you’re not eligible for COBRA or want to find an alternative, there are other options. For instance, you may be able to join your spouse’s insurance plan. Or you might be interested in coverage options offered by the federal health insurance marketplace.

Short-term policies or Medicaid programs may be an option for you if you’re experiencing a gap in coverage. Whatever you do, don’t go uninsured completely. The downsides can be severe, especially during an uncertain time. 

If you’re interested in COBRA coverage, you have at least 60 days to elect to participate.

Coverages Under COBRA

Under COBRA insurance, you’ll receive the same coverage you had under your employers’ plan. These benefits will extend to your spouse and dependents, if applicable. 

If you fail to pay your premium or any fees, your coverage may be terminated. Your coverage may also be terminated if you get a job that offers coverage or you qualify for Medicare during your period of COBRA coverage.

According to COBRA, any arrangement that an employer establishes to provide medical care to employees and their families is a group health plan. Medical care refers to:

  • Inpatient and outpatient care
  • Physician care
  • Prescription drugs
  • Surgery or other significant medical benefits
  • Dental and vision care

Disability benefits and life insurance do not fall under medical care and are not covered by COBRA plans.

COBRA Dental Insurance

Dental coverage is included under COBRA, as are medical and vision benefits, as long as your employers’ health plan included these benefits.
For example, if you had medical and vision insurance under your employers’ plan but not a dental plan, you can keep one or both existing plans under COBRA. You cannot add a dental plan after the fact.
If your dental insurance is from a standalone dental plan, you must complete an additional dental-specific COBRA registration process.

Let Us Help You Find The Right Insurance

COBRA is a great option for retaining health insurance if you suddenly lose your job and employer-sponsored health coverage. Sometimes it’s the best option; however, the rates are often high.
There are many options out there for general health and COBRA dental insurance. You may choose to explore insurance options on your own, but let us help.
Our licensed insurance agents can simplify the process and help you understand your options. Contact us to discuss your options.

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