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COBRA versus Subsidy for COBRA (18 vs 15 months)

This week I have been asked about this so many times that I wanted to address some confusion concerning federal COBRA.

Federal COBRA runs a standard 18 months, not 15 months. There are cases where it can be 29 months (disability extension) or 36 months (divorce, separation, death of the employee, state extension or dependent age-off of parent's plan). Generally it runs 18 months for most people.

The subsidy for COBRA (for those who qualify) runs 15 months. It was originally set up to run 9 months but was extended.

You do not exhaust or lose COBRA at 15 months. You only lose the subsidy at 15 months. You still have 3 more months of COBRA (or more if extended) after the subsidy goes away.

You are not eligible for HIPAA at 15 months. You have to complete the 18 months.


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