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The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives employees at companies with 20 or more employees, the right to choose to continue receiving group health benefits after leaving employment.
Employees and their dependent family members have the right to continue group health coverage for 18 months (in special circumstances, 36 months), in the following situations:
You lose your job, which can be voluntary or involuntary
Your work hours are reduced
You are covered under your spouse’s plan and your spouse dies or you get divorced
If you are undecided about continuing your group coverage under COBRA, consider:
You remain on the same health insurance coverage your former employer offers existing employees
You must pay the full cost of the coverage, plus a 2% administrative fee.
The Affordable Care Act and HIPAA both contain provisions that entitle you to a special enrollment period when losing your job-based coverage. This will allow you to explore other health insurance coverage, during which:
You can enroll in your spouse’s group health plan coverage.
If you are under age 26 you can enroll in your parent’s group health plan. You must request special enrollment within 30 days from the loss of your job-based coverage.
The Health Insurance Marketplace offers “one-stop shopping” to find and compare private health insurance options. You may be eligible for tax credits to lower your monthly premiums or cost-sharing reductions (amounts that lower your out-of-pocket costs for deductibles, co-insurance and co-payments).
Eligibility for COBRA continuation coverage won’t limit your eligibility for Marketplace coverage or for a tax credit. You can apply for Marketplace coverage at HealthCare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596