Lost Your Job? Keep Your Health Insurance With COBRA

SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwire - March 29, 2010) -  In these tough economic times, keeping your health insurance coverage is more important than ever. If you have lost your job or had your work hours cut, you may be able to extend your current health care coverage through federal or California state programs called COBRA/Cal-COBRA. California's Office of the Patient Advocate provides information to help you decide whether or not COBRA coverage is right for you and your family, learn if you qualify for COBRA financial assistance and know the deadlines for electing COBRA coverage. Under certain circumstances COBRA coverage can:

  • Allow you to keep your current health plan for up to 36 months
  • Ensure coverage for pre-existing health conditions
  • Include coverage for family members
  • Reduce premiums for those who have lost their jobs between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009
  • Guarantee you the right to buy an individual health insurance policy

Keeping your health insurance coverage can not only help you avoid disastrous medical bills, it can also make it easier to get a new health insurance plan if you avoid a gap in coverage of more than two months. The Office of the Patient Advocate urges all Californians to stay insured and can help you compare services provided by different health plans. For more information on keeping your current health insurance coverage and easy-to-use tools for comparing health insurance plans, visit the Office of the Patient Advocate online at www.opa.ca.gov

"Avoiding gaps in your health care coverage is critical and more challenging in this economy," said Sandra Perez, director of the California Office of the Patient Advocate. "Be your best advocate; know your options for maintaining your health insurance so you and your family continue to receive the health care you need."

Health care plays an important role in the lives of all Californians. The Office of the Patient Advocate offers information and the tools needed to make informed health care decisions and get the most out of their health insurance plan. In addition to free educational materials, the Office of the Patient Advocate releases an annual health care quality report card rating the State's largest health insurance plans and doctors' medical groups in the state on quality of care and patient satisfaction as rated by plan members. There are also links to other report cards on hospitals, nursing homes, PPOs, Medi-Cal, Medicare, and Healthy Families.

The Office of the Patient Advocate is an independent office in state government that informs Californians about their rights and responsibilities as health insurance plan members and teaches them how to get the most out of their health care. To learn more about getting the most out of your health care, or to download health worksheets and other materials, visit www.opa.ca.gov.