The Con­sol­i­dat­ed Omnibus Bud­get Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Act of 1985 (COBRA) requires employ­ers to offer cov­ered employ­ees who lose their health ben­e­fits due to a qual­i­fy­ing event to con­tin­ue group health ben­e­fits for a lim­it­ed time at the employee’s own cost. Per reg­u­la­tion, qual­i­fy­ing events are spe­cif­ic events that cause or trig­ger an indi­vid­ual to lose health cov­er­age. The type of qual­i­fy­ing event deter­mines who the qual­i­fied ben­e­fi­cia­ries are and the max­i­mum length of time a plan must offer con­tin­u­a­tion cov­er­age. A group health plan may pro­vide longer peri­ods of con­tin­u­a­tion cov­er­age beyond the max­i­mum 18 or 36 months required by law.

There are sev­en trig­ger­ing events that are qual­i­fy­ing events for COBRA cov­er­age if they result in loss of cov­er­age for the qual­i­fied ben­e­fi­cia­ries, which may include the cov­ered employ­ee, the employee’s spouse, and depen­dent children.

Triggering event plus loss of coverage equals COBRA coverage

The fol­low­ing quick ref­er­ence chart indi­cates the qual­i­fy­ing event, the indi­vid­ual who is enti­tled to elect COBRA, and the max­i­mum length of COBRA con­tin­u­a­tion coverage.

COBRA qualifying events

For an exten­sive dis­cus­sion of each qual­i­fy­ing event and the con­di­tions when it is not a trig­ger­ing event (includ­ing exam­ples), request UBA’s Com­pli­ance Advi­sor, “What Qual­i­fy­ing Events Trig­ger COBRA?’.

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