By Barbara Marquand
Posted: October 23, 2018

After you quit or lose a job, you can temporarily continue your employer-sponsored health insurance coverage through a federal law known as COBRA.

But here’s the catch: You have to pick up the entire tab, plus up to 2 percent for administrative costs. Prepare for sticker shock if you’re accustomed to the employer paying the premium.

Congress passed the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act two decades ago to give families an insurance safety net. Before then, lots of folks who lost health insurance at work had trouble qualifying for coverage when they tried to buy it on their own. They’d get turned down or face exorbitant premiums if they had health conditions.

Now, there are more options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But there’s only one way to keep your employer-sponsored coverage after losing your job – COBRA. COBRA lets you do that for up to 18 months, and your spouse and dependents in some cases can stay covered for up to three years.