The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan.
COBRA generally requires that group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees in the prior year offer employees and their families the opportunity for a temporary extension of health coverage (called continuation coverage) in certain instances where coverage under the plan would otherwise end.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides a COBRA premium reduction for eligible individuals who are involuntarily terminated from employment through the end of May 2010. Due to the statutory sunset, the COBRA premium reduction under ARRA is not available for individuals who experience involuntary terminations after May 31, 2010. However, individuals who qualified on or before May 31, 2010 may continue to pay reduced premiums for up to 15 months, as long as they are not eligible for another group health plan or Medicare.
The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010 signed by the President on July 22, 2010, did not extend the COBRA premium reduction.