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Can I Get COBRA on My Spouse's Health Plan After Their Death?

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Can I Get COBRA on My Spouse's Health Plan After Their Death?

If your spouse has passed away, and you are listed as a beneficiary of his or her healthcare plan, then under the law you have a right to continue receiving healthcare with your spouse’s health plan. The Consolidate Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 gives individuals the right to continue their group health insurance if coverage is lost due to a specific qualifying event.

Qualifying Events

There are five basic qualifying events that initiate COBRA continuation coverage:

  • Termination of employment or reduction in work hours
  • Death of an employee
  • Divorce or legal separation
  • Covered employee becoming eligible for Medicare
  • Dependent child ceasing to be classified as dependent under the terms of the plan

Any of these qualifying events can trigger COBRA continuation coverage. If your spouse dies, you have the right to continue the health insurance plan you had as a beneficiary under his or her policy through COBRA.


The employer is required to contact the health plan in the event of the death of an employee. The plan then has 14 days to notify all beneficiaries of their rights under COBRA. Any beneficiary listed on the plan must be independently notified of their eligibility to receive continuation coverage. Children and dependents who have lost healthcare under your spouse’s health plan may get their own COBRA continuation coverage. If any of your dependents are minors, you are allowed to make election decisions for them.

The election notice you receive will spell out in detail everything you need to know about your COBRA rights, coverage options, and costs. While COBRA gives you the right to continue your healthcare coverage, you will be responsible for paying for that coverage, up to 102% of the price of the plan, which includes your spouse’s and their employer’s contributions.

Maximum Period

If you elect continuation coverage under COBRA, you and your dependents may keep the coverage for a maximum of 36 months from the date of the death of your spouse. See your election notice for complete details about your specific plan options.

Let RedQuote Help!

RedQuote helps beneficiaries understand their COBRA plan benefits and can provide them with information about individual plan options and any changes they may experience when a spouse dies.  We provide understanding and peace of mind and help them choose the best plan for their age, budget and coverage preferences. If your company might be interested in hiring us to manage COBRA benefits for beneficiaries coming off your group medical plan, contact us today!

Published Jul 13, 2017.

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