When people find out they have chronic kidney disease (CKD), many may begin to worry about their health and how they will pay for it. In uncertain times, you may find that you need COBRA to help cover your health care costs. COBRA is continuation of health insurance, usually for people who are laid off, fired from their job or have other life changing events and lose their employer's health care coverage. COBRA may be available to help people from the time a person or their spouse loses their job until they get back on their feet. This is a look at what COBRA is, how it works and who is eligible for this type of continuation coverage.
COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1985), also known as "continuation of coverage," is a federal law that applies to employers and group health plans that cover 20 or more employees. It allows you, the employee and or covered dependants, to continue with your health coverage for a set amount of time if coverage would otherwise be lost due to a life event change, usually referred to as a qualifying event. Employers may require people who elect continuation of coverage to pay the full cost of the coverage, plus a 2 percent administrative charge. Remember, many chronic kidney disease patients are dependants and entitled to COBRA, whether their spouse (the former employee) elects COBRA for themselves or not.
When you are the employee, a qualifying event is a loss of employer health insurance due to:
When you are the spouse or dependant, a qualifying event is a loss of employer health insurance due to:
You may be able to receive COBRA if you have health insurance through an employer who has 20 or more employees, and there is a qualifying event. In some states you may be able to qualify for a Mini COBRA if you have health insurance through an employer who has 2 to 19 employees, and there is a qualifying event.
COBRA premiums can seem expensive at first glance. Organizations like the American Kidney Fund (AKF) and some government programs can help assist in paying for health care costs. Please note that the AKF assists people with chronic kidney disease who are on dialysis or are getting ready to go on dialysis. Talk with your social worker immediately if there is any change in your family's insurance or employment. The social worker can help maintain health care coverage.
As of July 2009, COBRA requires that continuation of coverage be made available for a limited period of time - 18 to 36 months - depending on the type of qualifying event as follows:
You may be able to extend your coverage beyond the 18-month period of continued coverage if:
Your coverage will end after the 18-month period ends if a social security disability extension has not been obtained or at the end of 29 months if the disability extension was approved by the COBRA administrator. COBRA can end prior to the predetermined duration if:
In some instances you may have several choices, including:
The following are dates that you should keep in mind if you are looking into COBRA for insurance coverage:
When you discover you have chronic kidney disease, you will want to know what your options are in regards to maintaining and covering your health. Changes may occur throughout your life, and certain times call for COBRA as an option for continuation of health insurance coverage.
This site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a physician.
Please check with a physician if you need a diagnosis and/or for treatments as well as information regarding your specific condition. If you are experiencing urgent medical conditions, call 9-1-1