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.

Web Pages on This Topic

COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance
Provides information on continuation health coverage opportunities.

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.

Compliance Assistance 
Provides publications and other materials to assist employers and employee benefit plan practitioners in understanding and complying with the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) for the administration of retirement and health plans.

HIPAA Portability of Health Coverage and Nondiscrimination Requirements Frequently Asked Questions
Provides answers to questions on HIPAA special enrollment and nondiscrimination requirements.

Your Employer's Bankruptcy: How Will it Affect Your Employee Benefits? (PDF)
Provides information on bankruptcy's effect on retirement and group health plans.

Retirement and Health Care Coverage...Questions and Answers for Dislocated Workers (PDF)
Provides answers to common questions asked by dislocated workers about their retirement 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 information on making health benefit decisions following key life events such as marriage or the birth or adoption of a child.

Frequently Asked Questions for Reservists Being Called to Active Duty Related to their Retirement and Health Benefits 
Provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about retirement and health benefits by National Guard and reserve members being called to active duty.