Skip to page content
Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
Bookmark and Share

Health Plans & Benefits

Continuation of Health Coverage — COBRA

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan.

COBRA generally requires that group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees in the prior year offer employees and their families the opportunity for a temporary extension of health coverage (called continuation coverage) in certain instances where coverage under the plan would otherwise end.

COBRA outlines how employees and family members may elect continuation coverage. It also requires employers and plans to provide notice.

DOL Web Pages on This Topic

COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance Under The American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Of 2009 (ARRA)
Provides information and guidance for premium reductions and additional election opportunities for health benefits under the ARRA.

Frequently Asked Questions: COBRA Continuation Health Coverage
Provides answers to commonly asked questions about COBRA.

Health Benefits Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) (PDF)
Provides a detailed overview of the major provisions of COBRA.

Consumer Information on Health Plans
Provides fact sheets, booklets, and other health plan information from the Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).

Compliance Assistance
Provides publications and other materials to assist employers and employee benefit plan practitioners in understanding and complying with the requirements of ERISA as it applies to the administration of employee pension and welfare benefit plans.

Portability of Health Coverage (HIPAA) Frequently Asked Questions
Provides answers to questions including "what is HIPAA?" and "how does crediting for prior coverage work under HIPAA?"

Your Employer's Bankruptcy: How Will it Affect Your Employee Benefits?
Provides information on bankruptcy’s effect on pension and group health plans.

Your Health Plan and HIPAA ... Making the Law Work for You
Provides information about major provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act, the Mental Health Parity Act, and the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act.

Retirement and Health Care Coverage...Questions and Answers for Dislocated Workers
Provides answers to common questions asked by dislocated workers about their pension and health benefits.

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Health Benefits Work for You (Español)
Provides information to help you make informed decisions about health plans.

Work Changes Require Health Choices (Español)
Provides information on protecting your health care rights when your work life changes.

Life Changes Require Health Choices (Español)
Provides guidance on making health benefit decisions following key life events such as marriage or the birth or adoption of a child.

Frequently Asked Questions for Participants & Beneficiaries Related to the Events of September 11th
Provides answers to the most frequently asked questions by workers and their families whose pension and/or health plan benefits have been impacted by the events of September 11, 2001.

Frequently Asked Questions for Reservists Being Called to Active Duty Related to their Pension and Health Benefits
Provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about pension and health benefits by National Guard and reserve members being called to active duty as a result of the events of September 11, 2001.