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Common Questions​


What benefits must be covered under COBRA?

If you elect to purchase COBRA, the coverage should be the same as what you had with your employer coverage

How long do I have to elect COBRA Coverage?

If you are offered COBRA coverage, you must be given an election period of at least 60 days (starting on the later of the date you are furnished the election notice or the date you would lose coverage) to choose whether or not to elect continuation coverage. 

Why is COBRA coverage expensive?

COBRA coverage is expensive because your employer is no longer contributing towards the cost. You may want to contact a local exchange assister to determine to review all the options available to you for health insurance coverage.

What if my company closed or went bankrupt? Am I still eligible for COBRA?

If there is no longer a health plan, there is no COBRA coverage available. If, however, there is another plan offered by the company, you may be covered under that plan. Union members who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that provides for a medical plan also may be entitled to continued coverage.

Do deductibles start over with COBRA?

No.  If you already satisfied your deductible and out-of-pocket expenses, you do not start over again in the same plan year. 

For additional information about COBRA coverage, click here to view the U.S. Department of Labor's COBRA information.  For additional information about the questions above click here to review Frequently Asked Questions about COBRA.


What is "mini-COBRA"?

Mini-COBRA, or Act 2 of 2009, is a Pennsylvania law that gives employees of small businesses (2-19 employees) who receive health insurance from their employers the right to purchase continuation health insurance after they leave employment. It allows eligible employees and dependents to purchase health insurance through their former employer for nine months after their employment ends, as long as their former employer's coverage is continued.

Why is it called "mini-COBRA"?  Is it different from federal COBRA?

Mini-COBRA is modeled after the federal COBRA law, but with some important differences. The federal COBRA law allows employees at larger businesses (20 or more employees) to purchase continuation health coverage after they leave employment for 18 months (or, in some cases, 36 months) after their employment ends. Pennsylvania's Mini-COBRA applies to employees of smaller businesses (2-19 employees) and it is for a shorter length of time (nine months, with no extensions).

Who is eligible for Mini-Cobra continuation coverage?

Covered employees and their eligible dependents who lose group health insurance coverage through a small employer as a result of a "qualifying event" are eligible for Mini-COBRA continuation coverage. The covered employees and eligible dependents must have been continuously insured under the group policy or for similar benefits under any group policy which it replaced, for three consecutive months ending with the employee's termination. 

Also, continuation coverage is not available for anyone who is covered or is eligible for coverage under Medicare; who fails to verify that he is ineligible for employer-based group health insurance as an eligible dependent; or is or could be covered by any other insured or uninsured group health coverage arrangement and under which the person was not covered immediately prior to such termination (this last condition excludes Medical Assistance and CHIP.

What is a "qualifying event"? 

A qualifying event is an event that would result in the loss of coverage for the covered employee or eligible dependent, including: 

• death of the covered employee, 

• termination of employment (either voluntary or involuntary, but not for the employee's gross misconduct), 

• reduction in hours, 

• divorce or legal separation, 

• eligibility for Medicare, 

• dependent child ceasing to be dependent, 

• bankruptcy of the employer.

If you need health insurance before your Marketplace coverage takes effect and a COBRA/mini-cobra plan is not available, ask the employer’s insurance company and your local Blue Cross or Blue Shield company whether you are able to get a “conversion” policy. Note that there are special rules that limit their availability, and they generally cost more than COBRA coverage.

For more information about Mini COBRA click here.