Consumer Rights: Continue Your Health Coverage if You Lose or Change Your Job

Applies to all types of plans.

A federal law known as COBRA provides health insurance protection for people who lose their health insurance for a variety of reasons. COBRA applies to all plans, even self insured plans that are normally exempt from state laws.

If you received your health insurance through your employer and your employer had 20 or more employees, your employer must continue to offer group health insurance to you and your dependents after you lose your insurance. You have to pay the full cost of the policy and
may be charged an additional 2%, but this may be less expensive than buying private insurance. You should compare the cost of continuing coverage under COBRA with buying an individual HMO plan described above.

New York State Law expands this coverage to include employers with as few as 2 employees.

Your right to purchase coverage under COBRA is limited to 18 months after you lose your insurance (29 months for people on Social Security Disability). COBRA covers:

Workers who lost their jobs or had their hours sharply reduced.

These workers’ spouses and dependents.

Coverage is expanded to 36 months for spouses and dependents who lose insurance coverage because of an insured employee’s death, divorce, legal separation or if the dependents lose coverage because they reached the age when coverage through the parent(s) ends.

To learn more about COBRA coverage, click here.