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Congress passed the landmark Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) health benefit provisions in 1986. The law amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Internal Revenue Code and the Public Health Service Act to provide continuation of group health coverage that otherwise might be terminated.
COBRA provides certain former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates. This coverage, however, is only available when coverage is lost due to certain specific events. Group health coverage for COBRA participants is usually more expensive than health coverage for active employees, since usually the employer pays a part of the premium for active employees while COBRA participants generally pay the entire premium themselves.
While COBRA maybe an available option for you or your family members under your former employer’s group health insurance plan, you may have other individual health insurance options available to you during the General Open Enrollment Period or your Special Enrollment Period through the 1) Federal Health Exchange at www.healthcare.gov, or 2) outside of the federal health exchange with a local broker or agent.
During Open Enrollment or a Special Enrollment period, all plans currently sold in the marketplaces must accept your application without regard to your current or previous health conditions and without any pre-existing condition waiting periods as stipulated in Federal law under the ACA.