Ask the Expert: Keeping Health Insurance After Terminating Employment

Ask the Expert: Keeping Health Insurance After Terminating Employment

Shelly Rosenfeld

For a breast or ovarian cancer survivor, keeping work-based health insurance may be important in covering cancer costs when employment stops, especially if you are currently going through treatment and/or you like your doctors/network. Upon termination of employment, a person may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to purchase a new insurance policy through the Affordable Care Act or to potentially stay on their current insurance through The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

COBRA is a federal law that allows workers to temporarily keep their employer’s health coverage after a “qualifying event,” such as reducing work hours, or leaving or losing their job. COBRA is not a separate insurance plan for which to sign up, it simply allows workers to keep the same policy they had while they were working for up to 18 months.

COBRA applies to employers with 20 or more employees. Some states have mini-COBRA laws that may apply to employers with fewer than 20 employees. Contact your state’s department of insurance to learn more.

If COBRA is too expensive, you may find affordable insurance options on the state or federal marketplace. Check for more information.

Shelly Rosenfeld is a Staff Attorney at the Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC), a national program of Disability Rights Legal Center.  CLRC provides free education and resources on cancer-related legal questions to cancer survivors, caregivers, and health care professionals.  For more tips or answers to cancer-related legal questions, contact the CLRC at 866-843-2572 or visit

Disclaimer: Through this article, the author is not engaged in rendering any legal or professional services by its publication or distribution. It is not intended to be legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship.