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Louisiana COBRA Insurance
The state of Louisiana has its own Mini COBRA insurance plan to help its residents who don't qualify for the federal COBRA plan. This plan was set up by the LA state government to make sure that more people had access to health insurance after they lost, quit, or retired from their job. It was also set up to protect family members of employees who worked at smaller companies and weren't able to continue insurance after the death of a spouse, or divorce from a spouse.
Essentially all the Louisiana COBRA law does is extend coverage to people who do not meet the "qualifying plan" requirement in the federal COBRA law because their company doesn't have 20 or more employees on the plan. The Mini Louisiana COBRA plan, as it is sometimes called, makes COBRA coverage available through the state to people (and their families) who work at companies with as little as 2 and as many as 19 employees.
What Type of Insurance is Louisiana COBRA?
Louisiana COBRA is whatever type of insurance you (or the covered employee) had while they were employed. There is a huge misconception that COBRA is actually an insurance plan but it is actually a law that lets you continue the plan that you had. Nothing changes about the plan itself. Your network of doctors and hospitals stays the same, co payment and deductible costs stay the same, everything. If you had an HMO it will still be an HMO. If you had a PPO, it will still be the same PPO.
However there is a catch to continuing to keep the same health insurance plan with COBRA. First, the cost of the plan to you will change dramatically if your former employer subsidized any of your health care costs, which most do. Since you are no longer employed, they will no longer pay any part of your plan. Instead you will be responsible for the entire premium plus a 2% supplemental fee. Additionally, COBRA is temporary. For most situations it will only last 18 months, and in fact at the state level for LA COBRA is only lasts 12 months.
How Do I Know If I Am Eligible for Louisiana COBRA Insurance?
There are almost identical qualifying requirements for LA COBRA as the federal plan, with two main differences. First you cannot be eligible for federal COBRA. If you are then you must use that option for COBRA. Secondly, the qualifying plan must cover between 2-19 employees. Here is an overview of the eligibility requirements.
- Qualifying Beneficiary: This is who is eligible for COBRA and can be the covered employee, their spouse, and any dependents.
- Qualifying Event: This is how insurance is lost and can be when the covered employee loses, quits, or retires from their job without the presence of gross misconduct. For a spouse or child, COBRA can be used in the event of death of the covered employee, divorce from the covered employee, or when the covered employee is eligible for Medicare.
- Qualifying Plan: Lastly, qualifying plan is the type of health insurance plan you had before the qualifying event. For LA COBRA you must have been on this plan, it must still be active, and it must cover between 2-19 employees.
What If I Can't Afford Louisiana COBRA Coverage?
Whether or not you can afford LA COBRA it is always a good decision to consider other health insurance plans because most people find they can save up to 65% by going with a private plan. How come? Well employer sponsored group health insurance plans have to cover everyone - regardless of how healthy or unhealthy they are. That means they are always very expensive. If you choose COBRA, you continue to pay that expensive rate. However if you get a plan that just covers you and your family, it can be much cheaper, especially if you are healthy. To learn more about private health insurance plans get a free quote below and compare the costs of the plans offered to COBRA.
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Louisiana Frequently Asked Questions
Does Louisiana have a COBRA plan for people who don't qualify under the federal law?
They do. The state level plan is called Louisiana Mini COBRA insurance and was designed specifically for people who are disqualified from COBRA at the federal level because the company that employed them was too small. (Under 20 employees) The LA COBRA plan works the exact same way and will allow you to continue to use your health insurance after job loss or another qualifying event.
Can I keep using Louisiana Mini COBRA if I get a new job with insurance?
Once you qualify for a new insurance plan, you can no longer use your COBRA insurance. However, it is OK to continue to use Louisiana COBRA while you wait until the new insurance plan starts.
For how many months can I use LA COBRA insurance? Does it run out?
It does run out. The normal term length for COBRA in Louisiana is 12 months. The insurance starts the day you would have lost your insurance, which can be found on the election notice. At the end of 12 months you will have to sign up for a new health insurance plan either through a new workplace or through a private provider.
Is there a COBRA subsidy from the state government to cut the cost of Louisiana coverage?
Unfortunately, there is no longer a Louisiana COBRA subsidy or federal COBRA subsidy to reduce the cost of coverage. In the past there was a 65% subsidy to help people during the economic downturn in 2008 but it has since been cancelled.
After losing my job, COBRA seems incredibly expensive. What else can I do?
There are many other options for health insurance and the best option for you will depend on your health needs and financial position. For families living at or near the poverty line, you can likely qualify for Medicaid or a state sponsored health plan. For people who are generally healthy, a private plan is the cheapest option.