Continuing Coverage with COBRA and Cal COBRA

What is COBRA and Cal-COBRA?

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a United States federal law that, among other things, requires employers of 20 or more employees to offer continuation of coverage to employees and their dependents when a qualifying event that results in the loss of group eligibility occurs.

Cal-COBRA is a California law that applies to employers with 2 to 19 employees and employers with more than 20 employees who have exhausted their federal COBRA.

Key facts:

  • Information on COBRA subsidies from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act is available here

  • Eligibility: Employers must notify employees about the right to continue coverage when a qualifying event that results in the loss of group eligibility occurs

  • Duration: Depending on the qualifying event, COBRA and/or Cal-COBRA may last for up to 36 months

  • Administration: Blue Shield neither provides nor administers federal COBRA services. All employers are responsible for administering their own federal COBRA program. Blue Shield administers Cal-COBRA when an employer is subject to it under state law.

    Groups have the option to self-administer their federal COBRA benefits.

  • For instructions on how to administer your plan, please see Administrator Guides.

  • Deadline: Employees must sign up with the health plan within 60 days of receiving notice of eligibility for federal COBRA or Cal-COBRA

  • Cost: For COBRA, employees are responsible for the entire cost, up to 102 percent of the group rate. For Cal-COBRA, the cost may range from 110% to 150% of the group rate.

Additional Information

For more information on Federal COBRA and Cal-COBRA, please visit the California Department of Managed Healthcare website.

Also check the Department of Labor's website for more information on federal COBRA.