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Better Living with Liz Walker

The Art of Coping
From the Better Living with Liz Walker program on WCVB-TV

Stella is a single mom who was laid off from her financial manager job at a Boston area financial services company. While she is worried about finding a new job, her greatest fear is making sure she has adequate health care coverage in between jobs. Stella is a cancer survivor. Even though the disease is considered in remission, she wants to make sure she is prepare for any possibility. She has heard about COBRA but does not understand how it applies to her situation.


Stella’s specific questions concerning COBRA
1. Why is there a two week waiting period when I won’t have any coverage at all?
2. Why can’t the people at COBRA give me the possible rates on what the COBRA costs will be over the phone?
3. Why is it taking so long for me to get any information on COBRA? I’ve been out of work since January and I haven’t received anything (by May).
Related questions & answers
Q. What is COBRA?
A: COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Under government rules, COBRA gives you the right to choose to temporarily stay enrolled in the group health insurance benefits that you would otherwise lose after you reduce your working hours, quit your job, or lose your job. It also lets family members choose to keep health insurance after your job loss or other qualifying event that would normally cause them to lose the coverage they have through your employer. Under COBRA, employers do not contribute toward the cost of covering their former employees, that is your resobsibility.
Q. How long is it offered?
A: You may be able to stay enrolled in your employer’s health plan for 18 months after you reduce your working hours, quit your job, or lose your job. The best way to find out if you are eligible for COBRA is to check with your employer. Your employer can also tell you how much it will cost to keep your coverage. Depending on the timing and circumstances, there may be government help available to bring down the cost of COBRA coverage.
Q. Are there any reasonable alternatives to enrolling in COBRA?
A: Depending on your income, you might be eligible for the Medical Security Plan that is offered though the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance. To find out more, visit

If you are not eligible for that plan, but want an alternative to COBRA that is more affordable, visit the state’s Health Connector ( There you can find a wide array of plans to compare and choose the one that’s right for you. The Health Connector can even tell you if you might be eligible for a no-or-low cost plan.


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If you would like to submit your questions or comments to Liz in response to this Better Living program, please email and someone will respond to you shortly.

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