It’s Your Money Column – If You Lose Your Job-Continuing Health Insurance

If you and your family have been covered by health insurance at your job, you can find temporary health insurance coverage if your job is eliminated or if your hours are reduced.

A federal law allows you to retain health care coverage for up to 18 months (longer in some cases) while you are in employment transition. This transitional health care coverage is based on the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. Under COBRA, you are entitled to the same benefits that you had under your employer’s group plan. These benefits might also include drug, dental and vision care.

COBRA keeps your premiums close to what you were paying as an employee, with two exceptions. You can be charged up to 2 percent of your premium as an administrative fee. If part of your premium was paid by your employer as a benefit, the employer is not required to continue that portion. Since it will be up to you to send your premium payments, you will have to find out from your employer’s benefits office where to send those payments.

COBRA applies if your place of employment had 20 or more employees. Another type of health insurance, Colorado Continuation, applies to any size employer group. Benefit coverage is the same as COBRA. In addition, Colorado Continuation is available to employees, spouses or dependents regardless of the reason that employment was terminated. Employees terminated for "gross misconduct" who are not eligible for COBRA must be covered by Colorado Continuation. The premiums for Colorado Continuation do not contain additional administrative charges. For information on Colorado Continuation, contact the Colorado Division of Insurance at (303) 894-7499.

Don’t overlook health insurance for children. For families with children who do not qualify for Medicaid and who cannot afford health insurance, learn about Child Health Plan Plus, or CHP+, at For more information, call Diane Miller at 224-5209, extension 254.

Another place to check for health care coverage is Family HealthLine, a program through the Colorado Department of Health that provides free or low-cost health care. The number is 1-800-688-777. A source for major medical coverage is Cover Colorado at 1-800-313-4750.

Two Web sites with information on health insurance coverage are and