COBRA Definition

COBRA is the commonly-used acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985; the act was a wide-ranging law that, among other things, gave some employees the ability temporarily to continue existing health insurance coverage after leaving employment. Prior to COBRA, a change in jobs or unemployment resulted in a loss of insurance coverage, with often catastrophic financial consequences. COBRA allows an employee to retain insurance coverage, including coverage for family members, for a period following the end of employment. It also allows covered individuals to retain insurance coverage under certain other circumstances such as death of the employee or divorce from the employee. The cost of continued insurance must be covered entirely by the person retaining the insurance-the prior company does not defray any of the expenses; for this reason, coverage under COBRA is usually considered very expensive. Individuals interested in COBRA coverage should contact the human resource department of their current or prior employment.