As we mentioned in our previous blog about COBRA eligibility, being laid off from your job does not automatically make you eligible for COBRA health insurance continuation. Most notably, COBRA health insurance continuation does not apply to small businesses with fewer than 20 employees, unfortunately. This obviously has the potential to leave a large segment of the population with very few options for affordable health insurance if they are suddenly unemployed.
However, if COBRA continuation for your health insurance does not apply to your employer, all is not lost! Even though the federal COBRA laws do not apply to most small businesses, many states have state continuation laws for health insurance, usually referred to as “mini-COBRA” laws. Similar to federal COBRA, these laws help small business employees continue their health insurance coverage if they lose their jobs.
More than 35 states have mini-COBRA laws, and these mini-COBRA laws vary in terms from state to state. Some state mini-COBRA laws mirror federal COBRA very closely, requiring small group health plans to provide continued coverage to unemployed workers as long as they pay both the employer and employee share of the health insurance premium. In other states, the mini-COBRA laws provide shorter periods of continued health insurance coverage or fewer health insurance benefits.
Special Note: If you are concerned about being able to meet the full premiums for your health insurance under mini-COBRA, there is good news! As with federal COBRA, the Recovery Act also provides COBRA health insurance premium assistance to involuntarily unemployed workers who receive continued health insurance coverage under state programs, but only for those programs that are “comparable” to COBRA. The Recovery Act provides assistance with up to 65% of your COBRA health insurance premium, so it is very worthwhile to investigate if it’s a possibility!
To learn more about COBRA and related topics, visit us at MyHealthCafe.com at: