The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) was created by federal legislation in 1985. This act mandates that most employers offer an opportunity to continue group health plan coverage to employees and eligible family members when there is a “qualifying event” that would result in a loss of coverage under an employer’s plan.


In the case of a loss of coverage due to end of employment or reduction in hours of employment, coverage generally may be continued only for up to a total of 18 months. An 11-month extension of coverage may be available if any of the qualified beneficiaries is determined under the Social Security Act (SSA) to be disabled. The disability must have started at some time on or before the 60th day of COBRA continuation coverage and must last at least until the end of the 18-month period of continuation coverage. In the case of loss of coverage due to an employee’s death, divorce or legal separation, or a dependent child ceasing to be an eligible dependent under the terms of the plan, coverage may be continued for up to a total of 36 months.

All employees and their dependents who had group health plan coverage through the university as a result of employment are eligible. This includes:

  • employed students and their dependents with an RA or TA position
  • house staff/fellows and their dependents
  • post doctoral scholars/fellows and
  • certain temporary staff

Enrollment and Coverage

Following the termination of your benefit-eligible employment with the university, COBRA information will be mailed to your home address on file. This information is mailed the week following your last day of employment. Please ensure that your address and personal information is up to date to avoid delays.

In order to enroll in COBRA, you must complete and return the coverage election form within 60 days of the termination of the prior coverage. For events other than termination, you will need to contact University Benefits directly. You may choose to remain in the same plan (s) in which you were previously enrolled or you may change plans within those offered for employees in your employment classification.

COBRA coverage must begin the first of the month following loss of your other coverage, even if that date is prior to the Benefits Office receiving your election form. There cannot be a lapse of coverage. You will be billed on a monthly basis for the premiums and will be given the option of either receiving a University bill or having the premiums automatically deducted from a bank account.

You may only cover dependents covered at the time you became COBRA eligible. In the event of marriage, birth or adoption, you may add those individuals involved in that event, but not other dependents.


If you decide to terminate coverage before the end of your eligibility period, you will need to provide written notice (an email will suffice) prior to the date you want coverage cancelled. Please include your full name and University identification number. Coverage will end the first of the month after receiving this notification. The University will terminate coverage for non-payment of premiums.  When your COBRA maximum period of continuation of coverage ends, you may be eligible for conversion to an individual policy.