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COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, is a federal law offering a means for employees and their dependents to retain health insurance coverage after specific qualifying events result in a loss of coverage. It’s vital for individuals to be aware of the seven COBRA qualifying events to understand their rights and options when their healthcare coverage undergoes changes.

List of insurance qualifying events

Here is a general list of qualifying events for health insurance:

  • Termination of employment
  • Reduction in work hours
  • Divorce or legal separation
  • Death of the covered employee
  • Medicare entitlement
  • Loss of dependent child status
  • Employer bankruptcy

Let’s understand each event one by one:

  1. Termination of Employment:

The most common COBRA qualifying event is the termination of employment. When an employee leaves their job, whether by choice or force, they may qualify for COBRA coverage. This includes situations like layoffs, resignations, or terminations.

  1. Reduction in Work Hours:

If an employee experiences a significant reduction in work hours that leads to a loss of health insurance coverage, they may be eligible for COBRA. This provision safeguards individuals who had health benefits while working full-time but are now working part-time or have become temporarily unemployed.

  1. Divorce or Legal Separation:

The loss of health insurance coverage due to a divorce or legal separation from the covered employee qualifies as a COBRA event. It’s crucial for individuals going through such life changes to understand their healthcare options and the necessary steps to continue coverage if needed.

  1. Death of the Covered Employee:

In the unfortunate event of the death of the covered employee, their dependents may lose health insurance coverage. COBRA provides a safety net, enabling surviving family members to maintain health insurance for a specified period.

  1. Medicare Entitlement:

If the covered employee becomes entitled to Medicare benefits, it triggers a COBRA qualifying event for other family members covered under the employer’s health plan. COBRA serves as a bridge to provide continued coverage until alternative arrangements are made.

  1. Loss of Dependent Child Status:

When a dependent child loses their status as a dependent under the employer’s health plan, whether due to age, marriage, or other reasons, COBRA may be available. This ensures a smooth transition and uninterrupted health coverage.

  1. Employer Bankruptcy:

In cases where the employer goes bankrupt, leading to the termination of the health plan, it becomes a COBRA qualifying event for employees and their dependents. COBRA allows affected individuals to maintain health insurance coverage for a specified period, providing time to find alternative coverage.


Understanding the seven COBRA qualifying events is crucial for individuals facing changes in their employment or family status. Awareness of these events empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their health insurance coverage during transitional periods in their lives. If you find yourself in a situation that qualifies for COBRA coverage, act promptly to ensure a seamless continuation of healthcare benefits. Always consult with your employer’s benefits administrator or a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances.