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Cobra Insurance Wiki

What is COBRA Insurance, or Please explain COBRA insurance. This is the common refrain heard at times so I have brought you this article which would try to answer your doubts and queries about this subject.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act was passed by President Reagan in the year 1985. The primary purpose of this Act was to enable the employees to retain their health insurance facilities, after their retirement. The Title X clause in the Act amends the Internal Revenue Code.

By this amendment, an employee cannot claim tax deductions on the payment of health insurance premiums, unless the policy meets with certain requirements.

Cobra Insurance Wiki

COBRA health insurance can be availed by any employer who has 20 employees working for him. Tax deductions can be availed by the employer, only if the health insurance policy allows the employees to continue their coverage, even in case of an event that disqualifies them from the same.

Thus, COBRA offers continued coverage to the employees and their families, in case of events like divorce, resignation, termination of service due to reasons other than unlawful behavior etc. The cost of such continued coverage is paid for by the employer.

However, timely payment of premiums is expected on the part of the employee and failure towards the same will lead to termination of coverage. In such cases, the employer is required to give a 15 day notice to the respective employee.

The continued coverage usually last for a period decided by the beneficiary at the time of applying for the COBRA coverage subject to a certain maximum period. The maximum period is usually 18 months in most cases and can be extended to 29 months in case of qualifying events like disability. In case of a beneficiary who is a minor, application can be sent on his behalf by any other qualifying beneficiary.

How Does COBRA Insurance Work

•    Reduction in the number of hours of service for an employee.
•    An employee becoming entitled to medicare.
•    Divorce or other forms of legal separation.
•    Death of the employee is a qualifying event for his spouse and other family members.
•    Loss of status of a dependent child for the employee’s ward.

In each of the above events, the employee or his family becomes entitled to COBRA health insurance. To be entitled to such benefits, the employer should inform the health insurance administrators within 30 days of a qualifying event. The administrators should also receive a notification from the beneficiaries within 60 days of the qualifying event in case of events like divorce, separation, turning into an adult etc.

COBRA Stimulus Package Obama

  • According to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed by President Obama, employees qualify for continued coverage under COBRA in case of events like involuntary termination of service.
  • The premiums paid have also been subsidized up to 65%,  for a period of 9 months. This subsidy is to be paid either by the employer or by the insurance company.
  • Such subsidized premiums can only be availed by individuals, whose service has been terminated after September 1 2008.
  • Individuals or joint filers with annual gross income exceeding $145000 and $290000, will not be eligible for subsidy.

The subsidized premiums are likely to benefit many employees, availing coverage under COBRA. Especially during such hard economic climes when so many are being laid off and jobs are hard to come by.

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