Nothing about COBRA is simple. Even the name of the law is not straightforward. It comes from the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act under which it was passed back in 1986.

As always, your state may have an even more stringent law. But here's information you need to keep on track with the federal statute:

Who and what's covered

Companies with 20 or more employees that have group health plans are required by COBRA to offer the option of continuing medical coverage to workers who leave.

To determine whether you reach that 20-worker threshold, you have to count part-time workers as a fraction of an employee, and the threshold applies to the number of workers on more than half of your typical business days in the previous calendar year.

Qualified beneficiaries include the employee, spouse and dependent children. Children born or adopted during the coverage period also are entitled to benefits.

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