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Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

COBRA is a FEDERAL program regulated by The US Department of Labor. (external link) If you have concerns, complaints, or if your questions about COBRA are not answered, then please contact: United States Department of Labor (617) 565-9600 (866) 444-3272

The Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC) has NO regulatory oversite over COBRA.


The Federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1986 allows employees who have lost their job from a company that employs 20 or more employees to continue purchasing their group health insurance plan without losing or changing any of the benefits of services available when covered under the employer.

In order to be eligible for COBRA a qualifying beneficiary must have lost their coverage due to certain qualifying events. For more information please visit the The US Department of Labor. (external link)

If you are eligible for COBRA and your employer is located in Rhode Island you may be eligible for " Mini Cobra" Please see below for more information.

What is Mini- COBRA?

The RI "Mini COBRA" Law the Extended Medical Benefits statute (external link). allows employees and beneficiaries to retain their health insurance through their employer for up to 18 months if coverage was lost due to an employee being laid off, a reduction of hours, an employee death or the work place ceasing to exist.

Mini-COBRA unlike to Federal program is offered to employees of all company sizes. However, the company must be located in Rhode Island.

Employee or beneficiary OBLIGATIONS.?

If the qualifying event is divorce, legal separation or a child's loss of dependent status you need to contact your insurance carrier.

The former employee or beneficiary should receive paperwork no later than 14 days after the qualifying event. If no paperwork has been received you can call 1-866-444-3272 - The US Dept of Labor . You then have 60 days to elect COBRA continuation coverage.

For Mini- COBRA

If the company you were previously employed with is still in business you should contact them to see if you are eligible for Mini-COBRA however, if they are no longer in business you should contact the Insurance company directly or you may contact the US. Dept of Labor.

Employee responsiblilty

In the case of Mini- COBRA, the employee is responsible for the full cost of their medical benefit plan. If there were 50 or less employees in the company, the employee must pay the cost of their plan to the carrier directly ( insurance company). If the company has more than 50 employees, the employee must pay the premium to the employer unless the company no longer exists. If the company ceased to exist, the employee would pay the insurance carrier directly.

What is the cost of COBRA?

Former employees are responsible for paying the entire cost of the premium for their group coverage. This includes the cost of the premium they previously paid out-of-pocket in addition to share of the premium the employer previously covered. Additionally, former employees may be charged a 2% administrative fee to keep their coverage. Therefore, most people covered by COBRA may experience an increase in their health insurance premuiums compared to when they were employed. You cannot buy a different plan under COBRA from what you were offered as an employee.




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