I was laid off and used COBRA for 7 months. Started a new job and was employed for 6 months, quit the job because we moved. Am I entitled to COBRA again from the second job?


Yes. COBRA is just a law that says your employer must extend a terminated employee's eligibility under it's health plan for 18 months, but you must pay the full premium and potentially an up to 2% administration fee. The general caveats are: there is a minimum employer size, you cannot be terminated for "gross negligence" but the termination can be involuntary, and in some circumstances you can get a 36 month COBRA eligibility period.

COBRA is not some independent federal program; it is a rule that employers are forced to comply with. You were enrolled in Employer #1's plan then terminated and eligible for COBRA, then completely separately you were enrolled in Employer #2's plan then terminated and eligible for COBRA. The two COBRA qualifying events are independent of each other.

You will also have your special enrollment periods for individual coverage based on your termination dates.

  • Good answer (+1), but I don’t think “mutually exclusive” is the right description here. That phrase means that when you choose one option, the other is excluded. In this case, the OP can take COBRA the first time, and the second time it is available again. – Ben Miller - Remember Monica Jun 26 '19 at 17:25
  • Fair point, I thought mutually exclusive just meant the result of A had no bearing on the result of B, like two coin flips. Upon googling it seems that related to coin flips it's that a result of heads excludes the result of tails! #TheMoreYouKnow – quid Jun 26 '19 at 17:29
  • Not that it's likely to come up again, but I think you were looking for "disjoint" with totally uncorrelated outcomes. This is a great description of COBRA, but I always like to mention that you should initiate COBRA paperwork (when applicable), even if you aren't sure you'll ultimately want to stay enrolled in that plan. The window to do so is limited, and it's a requirement for some health insurance programs (particularly Medicaid). – Upper_Case Jun 26 '19 at 19:29
  • @Upper_Case: Mutually independent events have totally uncorrelated outcomes (although the reverse is not always true), but disjoint events cannot have uncorrelated outcomes (except in the degenerate case where one has a probability of zero) Disjoint means mutually exclusive. – Ben Voigt Jun 27 '19 at 4:35

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