- COBRA is a federal law that may let you keep your employer group health plan coverage for a limited time after your employment ends or after you would otherwise lose coverage. This is called "continuation coverage."
- In general, COBRA only applies to employers with 20 or more employees. However, some state laws require insurers covering employers with fewer than 20 employees to let you keep your coverage for a period of time.
- In most situations that give you COBRA rights (other than a divorce), you should get a notice from your employer's benefits administrator or the group health plan telling you your coverage is ending and offering you the right to elect COBRA continuation coverage.
- COBRA coverage generally is offered for 18 months, and 36 months in some cases. If you don't get a notice, but you find out your coverage has ended, or if you get divorced, call the employer's benefits administrator or the group health plan as soon as possible and ask about your COBRA rights.
- If you qualify for COBRA because the covered employee either 1) died, 2) lost his/her job, or 3) became entitled to Medicare, the employer must tell the plan administrator. Once the plan administer is notified, the plan must let you know you have the right to choose COBRA coverage.
- If you qualify for COBRA because you've become divorced or legally separated (court issued separation decree) from the covered employee, or if you were a dependent child or dependent adult child who is no longer a dependent, then you or the covered employee needs to let the plan administrator know about your change in situation within 60 days of the change.
- Before you elect COBRA coverage, it's a good idea to talk with your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) about Part B and Medigap.
Get answers to COBRA questions
Call your employer’s benefits administrator for questions about your specific COBRA options.
- If you have questions about Medicare and COBRA, call the Medicare Coordination of Benefits Contractor.
- If your group health plan coverage was from a private employer (not a government employer), contact the Department of Labor.
- If your group health plan coverage was from a state or local government employer, call the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at 1-877-267-2323 extension 61565.
- If your coverage was with the federal government, visit the Office of Personnel Management.