The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is federal law that lengthens your current group health insurance plan if you have a qualifying event like being terminated from your job or reduction of hours to part-time status. The amount of time you can extend your group coverage through Cal-COBRA is 18 months, which can be lengthened for certain eligible employees.

All different types of plans are eligible for COBRA extension including PPO’s, HMO’s, Indemnity policies, and self-insured plans. A twist to COBRA however is that federal government employee plans and church plans are exempt. California’s version is Cal-COBRA, which is a lot like federal COBRA. With Cal-COBRA the group policy must be in force with 2-19 employees covered on at least 50 percent of its working day.

Eligibility for Cal-COBRA extends to indemnity policies, PPOs, and HMOs only. Unlike in federal COBRA, Self-insured plans are not eligible, however church plans are. Both COBRA and Cal-COBRA do not apply to individual health insurance.

Starting January 1, 2003, the extension period for Cal-COBRA is shifting from 18 months to 36 months. If you happen to be eligible for Cal-COBRA after January 1, 2003, you will have the luxury of Cal-COBRA coverage for a full 36 months instead of the prior 18-month coverage extension.

COBRA is regulated by the DOL-EBSA, and Cal-COBRA is jointly regulated by the CDI and the DMHC depending upon what type of group coverage you have (indemnity or HMO). If you have any questions regarding COBRA, Cal-Cobra, or any of the agencies listed above it is best to contact the California Department of Insurance for answers. provides information on Group Insurance plans such as quotes, and company products, but does not administer nor has anything to do with COBRA, Cal-COBRA, or any of the above listed government agencies.