AOL Jobs Readers Change The World! ObamaCare COBRA Gap Fixed

Affordable Care Act gap got attention, with help from you!

G.O.P.: Too Fast Now
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I wrote a few weeks ago about The Little-Known ObamaCare COBRA Catch-22. I thought this issue was so important that I asked AOL Jobs readers for help. I asked you to sign a petition I started to alert the President to this issue. I asked you to tell the President to close the gap. And you came through.

Not only did you sign the petition, but some of you took action to help. Members of the National Employment Lawyers association contacted the Department of Labor to ask for a fix. Forbes found out about this issue and wrote a piece about it. And it worked.

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The Obama Administration just announced that it will allow people on COBRA to enroll in ACA through July 1, 2014. You'll have to call 800-318-2596 and let them know you qualify for the special enrollment period. They'll activate the special enrollment for you and you can choose from the exchanges.

As I explained in my prior column, for people who elect COBRA to continue on their employer's health insurance when they lose their jobs after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period, they were stuck paying high COBRA premiums until the next open enrollment. When you lose your job, you qualify for the special enrollment period to get coverage through an ACA exchange. However, dropping or being unable to continue on COBRA didn't qualify you for the special enrollment until this change.

This is important because ACA (better known as ObamaCare) is way more affordable for most people than COBRA. Yet many employees have to elect COBRA to make sure there's no gap in coverage (COBRA applies retroactively). Before ObamaCare, people had one choice when they lost their jobs, and that choice was COBRA or go bare. The ACA opened up another, more affordable choice, and it's been a lifesaver, literally, for many of my newly-unemployed clients.

This new fix by the Obama administration helps close the gap I reported. While this is a temporary fix, it proves that if we speak up we can change the world. This fix will help thousands of people save hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in insurance premiums. At least until July, you won't have to choose between health insurance and your mortgage payment.

In the meantime, COBRA notices are being fixed to make sure that unemployed people better understand the choices they must make between ACA and COBRA.

Thanks, AOL Jobs readers and NELA, for helping change the world to make it a little better for those who have lost their jobs.

If you need legal advice, it's best to talk to an employment lawyer in your state, but if you have general legal issues you want me to discuss publicly here, whether about discrimination, working conditions, employment contracts, medical leave, or other employment law issues, you can ask me at AOL Jobs.

Please note: Anything you write to me may be featured in one of my columns. I won't be able to respond individually to questions.

Donna Ballman

Donna Ballman


Donna Ballman’s book, Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired: Resolve Workplace Crises Before You Quit, Get Axed or Sue the Bastards, was the Winner of the Law Category of the 2012 USA Best Books Awards and is currently available for purchase. Donna is the award-winning author of The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom: Let’s Quill All the Lawyers, a book geared toward informing novelists and screenwriters about the ins and outs of the civil justice system. She’s been representing executives, physicians and employees in Florida, including negotiating severance agreements and litigating discrimination, sexual harassment, noncompete agreements, and other employment law issues since 1986. Her blog on employee-side employment law issues, Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home, was named one of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 ABA Blawg 100 best legal blogs, Paralegal 411’s Top 25 Labor and Employment law Blogs of 2013 and the 2011 Lexis/Nexis Top 25 Labor and Employment Law Blogs.

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