COBRA Continuation Coverage. If the individualís employer continues to operate and offer a group health plan, COBRA continuation coverage may be available. COBRA, which generally applies to employers with 20 or more employees, allows the individual and his/her family to continue the same group health coverage at group rates. An individualís cost for coverage may be higher than what the individual was paying before (and is usually higher than the cost for coverage under special enrollment in a spouseís plan), but generally the cost is lower than that for private, individual health insurance coverage. The plan should send a notice regarding the availability of COBRA coverage. After this notice is provided, the individual generally has 60 days to elect coverage and it is then available retroactive to the loss of coverage. (Note: Once an individual has elected COBRA, he/she wonít be eligible for special enrollment in another group health plan, such as a spouseís plan, until all COBRA coverage available is exhausted. Therefore, it is important to consider special enrollment in another plan promptly.) COBRA coverage typically lasts 18 months, but may last longer in certain circumstances.

http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/cobra.html