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Do I automatically lose my health insurance when I lose my job?

UPDATED: October 18, 2011

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You won't necessarily lose your health insurance if you are fired or laid off from your job. If your company has 20 or more employees, and carries health insurance, it falls under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Under this federal law, terminated employees or employees who resign can purchase continued coverage under their former employer's health insurance plan, at the group rate the employer had been paying (which is generally lower than the street value of the premium) for up to 18 months after the employee has been terminated. Some states have their own version of "COBRA". For instance, California has Cal/COBRA, which covers employers with 2-19 employees. It requires that former employees be able to purchase coverage for 36  months. Cal/COBRA also adds an additional 18 months of coverage for those employees covered by Federal COBRA, bringing their total insurance coverage to 36 months.

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