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Massachusetts COBRA Insurance
In the state of Massachusetts you have to have health insurance. It is mandated by a law that was passed in 2006 known as the Massachusetts Health Care Insurance Reform Law. Under this law everyone is required to have minimum health insurance coverage and people who are earning less then 150% of the federal poverty line get medical free insurance.
For people and their family members who recently lost their jobs, quit their jobs, or retired from the jobs; one option for meeting the state mandate is to use COBRA insurance either through the federal government or through the state COBRA law.
Federal COBRA vs. Massachusetts COBRA Insurance
There are actually not many differences between federal COBRA and MA COBRA insurance except that the Massachusetts plan is meant for people who work at smaller companies with between 2-19 employees and therefore wouldn't qualify for the federal plan. In both plans, the health insurance coverage with COBRA insurance stays exactly the same since the plan is exactly the same. COBRA is a continuation of the plan you had, not a new plan. Doctors, hospital visit policies, deductibles, and prescription plans - everything stays the same.
In terms of eligibility for COBRA at the federal and MA state level, the requirements are virtually identical, as are the costs and coverage length. Use the table below to better understand MA COBRA insurance and federal coverage.
|Federal COBRA||Massachusetts COBRA|
|Qualifying Event||Job loss (including quitting and retirement) without gross misconduct, divorce, covered employee death, covered employee Medicare eligibility, loss of dependent status||Job loss (including quitting and retirement) without gross misconduct, divorce, covered employee death, covered employee Medicare eligibility, loss of dependent status|
|Qualifying Plan||20 or more employees (or their part time equivalents) on an active health insurance plan||2-19 employees (or their part time equivalents) on an active health insurance plan|
|Qualifying Beneficiary||Covered employees, spouses, dependents||Covered employees, spouses, dependents|
|Cost||102% of the full premium||102% of the full premium|
|Length of Coverage||18 months in most cases||18 months in most cases|
Cost of COBRA Insurance in Massachusetts
The cost of COBRA insurance is 102% of the premium. Let's look at this a bit deeper to truly understand what that means. With COBRA, you must pay the entire premium yourself plus a 2% administration charge. Your former employer will no longer pay any of your health care costs. Let's imagine your employer paid 50% of your premium monthly, which is lower than the national average, that would mean with COBRA your cost would double since you would pay that piece of the premium as well. Most people find that their health care expenses increase significantly with COBRA and the average family of four spends well over $1050 monthly.
Finding a Cheaper Insurance Option
Since you have to have health insurance in Massachusetts, it will be wise to explore more than just COBRA insurance and find a less expensive health insurance option. Many private companies offer very competitive plans that offer comprehensive coverage for a savings of up to 65% when compared to COBRA. You can explore those plans below by getting a free quote and comparing your options to COBRA. If you are earning less than 150% of the federal poverty line then you can sign up for free governmental sponsored health insurance in MA.
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Massachusetts Frequently Asked Questions
How can I qualify for free health insurance in Massachusetts? MA COBRA is too expensive for me.
In Massachusetts under the current law, individuals and families qualify for free healthcare from the state when they live at or below 150% of the federal poverty line. If you make more money than that, you will have to sign up for a plan to be in compliance for the state law. A private policy may offer a less expensive option than COBRA coverage.
Will signing up for Massachusetts COBRA coverage ensure I am in compliance with the state law?
Yes. COBRA insurance at the state or federal level will keep you in compliance with the mandated health care law. Both plans simply continue the health plan you had before losing your job, and employer plans have to meet the minimum coverage requirements in the law.
Who is eligible for Massachusetts COBRA insurance?
The MA law is for people who work at smaller companies, with 2-19 employees, and therefore don't qualify for federal coverage. If they are disqualified for any other reason, then they will also be ineligible for the MA program. It was added to the law so that more people could continue their insurance with COBRA if they chose to.
How much money can I expect to spend on the MA COBRA coverage?
The cost of MA COBRA is dependent on the cost of your monthly premium. The law stipulates that COBRA will cost 102% of the monthly expense. It also outlines that the employer no longer must pay any part of the expense. For this reason, COBRA tends too much more expensive then people expect it will be.
I am going to sign up for MA COBRA but want a lower cost option for my children; is there a state plan?
There is a state plan in Massachusetts for children living under a certain income limit. It is known as Massachusetts Children' Medical Security Program. The program is for children under 19 years old and provides comprehensive coverage for all medical needs.