Skip Navigation

COBRA: 7 important facts

  1. COBRA is a federal law that may let you keep your employer group health plan coverage for a limited time after one of these:
      • Your employment ends
      • You lose coverage as a dependent of the covered employee

    This is called "continuation coverage."

  2. In general, COBRA only applies to employers with 20 or more employees. However, some states require insurers covering employers with fewer than 20 employees to let you keep your coverage for a limited time.
  3. 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. The notice will tell you your coverage is ending and offer you the right to elect COBRA continuation coverage.
  4. COBRA coverage generally is offered for 18 months (36 months in some cases). Ask the employer's benefits administrator or group health plan about your COBRA rights if:
    • You find out your coverage has ended and you don't get a notice
    • You get divorced
  5. The employer must tell the plan administrator if you qualify for COBRA because of one of these:
      • The covered employee died
      • The covered employee lost his/her job
      • The covered employee became entitled to Medicare

    Once the plan administrator is notified, the plan must let you know you have the right to choose COBRA coverage.

  6. You or the covered employee needs to tell the plan administrator if you qualify for COBRA because of one of these:
      • You've become divorced or legally separated (court-issued separation decree) from the covered employee
      • You were a dependent child or dependent adult child who's no longer a dependent

    You'll need to tell the plan administrator about your change in situation within 60 days of the change.

  7. Before you elect COBRA, 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 Benefits Coordination & Recovery Center (BCRC) at 1-855-798-2627 (TTY: 1-855-797-2627).
  • 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.