COBRA coverage

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (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 if you lose coverage as a spouse or dependent of the covered employee).  

Who's able to get COBRA?

In general, COBRA only applies to employers with 20 or more employees. However, some states have mini-COBRA laws that require insurers covering employers with fewer than 20 employees to let you keep your coverage for a limited time. Check with your state insurance commissioner's office to see if coverage is available to you. 

You may also be eligible for COBRA if you recently got divorced or legally separated (court-issued separation decree) or were a dependent child or dependent adult child who's no longer a dependent. If any of these situations apply to you, either you or the covered employee needs to tell the employer’s benefits administrator about your change in situation within 60 days of the change. 

To get COBRA coverage, your employer must tell the plan administrator why you qualify. Once the plan administrator is notified, the plan must let you know you have the right to choose COBRA coverage. 

What happens if my former employer goes bankrupt or out of business?

How long does COBRA coverage last? 

COBRA coverage is generally offered for 18 months (36 months in some cases). Ask your employer's benefits administrator or group health plan about your COBRA rights if you find out your group health plan coverage has ended and you don't get a notice, or if you get divorced.

How does COBRA work with Medicare?

If you have COBRA and you’re eligible for Medicare but not enrolled, COBRA may only pay for a small portion of the health care services you get, and you may have to pay most of the costs yourself. Contact your COBRA plan and ask what percent they pay. 

Avoid gaps in coverage & the Part B late enrollment penalty
If you have COBRA before signing up for Medicare, your COBRA will probably end once you sign up. You have up to 8 months after you stop working (or lose your health insurance, if that happens first) to sign up for Part B without a penalty, whether or not you choose COBRA. If you miss this period, you'll have to wait until January 1 - March 31 to sign up, and your coverage will start the month after you sign up. This may cause a gap in your coverage, and you may have to pay a lifetime Part B late enrollment penalty. To avoid unexpected medical bills, you may need to sign up for Medicare as soon as you are eligible. Contact your State Health Assistance Program (SHIP) for free, personalized help with this decision.

Who can I contact if I have more questions about COBRA? 

You can call your employer’s benefits administrator for questions about your specific COBRA options. 

  • If you have questions about COBRA and how it will impact your Part B (Medical Insurance) and/or Medigap, call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for help. Visit to find your local SHIP. 
  • If you have questions about COBRA and Medicare, call the Benefits Coordination & Recovery Center (BCRC) at 1-855-798-2627 (TTY: 1-855-797-2627).
  • If you have questions about COBRA and your group health plan coverage from:
    • A private employer (not a government employer), contact the Department of Labor
    • A state or local government employer, call the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at 1-877-267-2323 extension 61565. 
    • The federal government, visit the Office of Personnel Management.