How Do I Join COBRA?

If you are losing coverage under an employer sponsored benefits plan, you may be eligible to join COBRA.

What is COBRA?

COBRA refers to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. COBRA requires group health plans to offer workers the right to choose to continue their group coverage for a stated period after a qualifying event that causes the loss of group health coverage. COBRA gives employees and/or their families the option to extend their benefits for a specified period of time after a qualifying event.

Does My Employer Offer COBRA?

COBRA typically applies to private employers with over 20 employees employees for at least half of its business days in the previous calendar year. If you are an individual wondering if your employer offers COBRA, you can reach out to the plan administrator for your employer sponsored plan.

If you are a business wondering if you have to offer COBRA, contact our Employee Benefits team here at Cross Insurance for more information on your business’s specific needs.

Who Qualifies for COBRA? 

There are a variety of qualifying events that could lead to COBRA enrollment. Below please find a list of qualifying events for employees and their families. The length of time you can be enrolled in COBRA varies based on your qualifying event. If you have questions regarding the length of time you are eligible for COBRA, you can contact your plan administrator for more information.

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Qualifying COBRA Events for Employees

  • Termination of employment for most reasons other than misconduct.

  • Reduction of working hours below the minimum described in the employer sponsored plan design.

Qualifying COBRA Events for Spouses

Employee’s termination of employment for most reasons other than misconduct.

  • Employee’s reduction of working hours below the minimum described in the employer sponsored plan design.
  • Employee becoming Medicare eligible.
  • Divorce or legal separation with the employee.
  • Death of the employee.


Qualifying COBRA Events for Dependents


  • Loss of dependent status in relation to the employer sponsored plan design.
  • Employee’s termination of employment for most reasons other than misconduct.
  • Employee’s reduction of working hours below the minimum described in the employer sponsored plan design.
  • Employee becoming Medicare eligible.
  • Employee’s divorce or legal separation.
  • Death of the employee.


How Long Do I Have to Join Cobra? 

From the time of the COBRA qualifying event, the employee, spouse and/or dependent, has 60 days to enroll in COBRA.

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How Do I Enroll in COBRA? 

To join COBRA, you will need to contact the plan administrator for the employer sponsored plan you were enrolled on. If your employment was terminated, you should have received a COBRA notice from your employer. Contact your plan administrator and they will send along the appropriate paperwork. Paperwork usually includes a new enrollment form and a signed COBRA notice.

Why COBRA May Be Expensive 

The premiums for people enrolled in COBRA may be higher than they were previously paying. There are a couple of factors that contribute to the price increase. One factor is that the employer may cease their contribution to your coverage. Employers may contribute a set amount or percentage to their active employee’s coverage. However, if the employee is terminated, they are allowed to cease their contribution and the responsibility for the full amount would then fall on the individual enrolled in COBRA.

Another factor is that employers are allowed to charge a COBRA administration fee of 2%. Therefore, you could be paying 2% more than the cost of coverage. That 2% administration fee is used to cover the administrative expenses incurred by the employer for managing COBRA coverage.

Is COBRA My Only Option After I Leave My Job?  

If you have experienced a COBRA qualifying event, there are other options than enrollment in COBRA. If your employment has been terminated for most reasons other than misconduct, you will be eligible for COBRA. However, you do not have to enroll in COBRA. Termination of employment typically is a qualifying life event for you and your family to do any of the following.

  • You could join your spouse’s employer sponsored plan, even if they are not currently enrolled.
  • You can obtain marketplace coverage through
  • You may be eligible to join Medicaid if you meet the necessary financial and non-financial requirements.

Health Insurance Quotes 

Understanding health insurance options and COBRA coverage can be difficult and confusing at times. Cross Insurance can help you explore your options when it comes to individual or group health insurance. To find out more, contact your local Cross Insurance today.


This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon or used for any particular purpose. Cross Insurance shall not be held responsible in any way for, and specifically disclaims any liability arising out of or in any way connected to, reliance on or use of any of the information contained in this article. The information contained or referenced in this article is not intended to constitute and should not be considered legal, insurance, accounting or other professional advice, nor shall it serve as a substitute for the recipient obtaining such advice. The views expressed in this article are that of its author and do not necessarily represent the views of Cross Financial Corp. and its subsidiaries and affiliates (“Cross Insurance”) or Cross Insurance’s management or shareholders.

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