Losing your job can be a stressful and uncertain time, especially when it comes to your health insurance coverage. Fortunately, there is a federal law in place to help protect you and your family during this transition period. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows you to continue your employer-sponsored health insurance coverage for a limited time after you lose your job. In this article, we will discuss what COBRA coverage is and what steps you should take if you find yourself in this situation.
What is COBRA Health Insurance?
COBRA coverage is a federal law that requires employers with 20 or more employees to offer extension of health insurance coverage to employees and their families when they lose their job or experience a reduction in work hours. COBRA coverage is typically more expensive than employer-sponsored coverage, as the employer is no longer contributing to the cost.
Steps to Take When You Lose Your Job and Health Insurance
If you lose your job and health insurance coverage, the first step you should take is to contact your employer’s human resources department. They will provide you with information about your COBRA coverage options and the cost of continuing your coverage. You will have 60 days from the date of your job loss to elect COBRA coverage, so it is important to act quickly.
Once you have elected COBRA coverage, you will need to pay the full cost of the premiums, which may be significantly higher than what you were paying while employed. However, this coverage can be a lifesaver if you or a family member has a pre-existing condition or requires ongoing medical treatment.
How Long Does COBRA Coverage Last?
The duration of COBRA insurance refers to the length of time that individuals are eligible to maintain their health insurance coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). COBRA allows individuals to continue their group health coverage for a certain period of time after they have experienced a qualifying event that would otherwise result in the loss of coverage, such as job loss, reduction in work hours, divorce, or death of the covered employee.
The specific duration of COBRA coverage can vary depending on the circumstances, but in general, individuals and their qualified claimants can typically maintain COBRA coverage for up to 18 to 36 months, depending on the circumstances and the type of qualifying event that triggered the need for COBRA. It is important for individuals to carefully review their specific situation and consult with their employer or benefits administrator to determine the exact duration of their COBRA coverage.
The American Dental Association is advocating for the inclusion of adult dental services as essential health benefits in Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace plans. A proposed rule change by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) could lift the ban on states including adult dental services in ACA-compliant plans, aiming to address disparities in oral health care access. The proposal emphasizes the interlinking of oral and overall health, citing the impact on chronic conditions and the potential to improve outcomes, particularly in marginalized communities.
The letter also highlights the role of oral health in substance use disorder treatment adherence, employment prospects, and overall well-being. In North Carolina, where Medicaid recently expanded to include oral health care benefits, challenges persist due to limited dentist acceptance, leaving a coverage gap. The ADA recommends specific oral care services be included in marketplace plans and advocates for consumer protections. Additionally, the Biden administration has made modest expansions to dental coverage under Medicare, focusing on medically necessary services.
COBRA Coverage in North Carolina
In the state of North Carolina, individuals who lose their job or experience a reduction in work hours may be eligible for COBRA coverage. This coverage is particularly beneficial for those who want to maintain their health insurance during a time of transition or uncertainty.
COBRA insurance serves as an invaluable safety net for individuals and families across the nation. Therefore, it is essential for individuals to understand their rights and options under COBRA, as well as to explore alternative coverage options that may better suit their individual needs and circumstances.