Domestic Partners & COBRA Coverage

When it comes to COBRA coverage, it can sometimes be confusing. We’re often asked questions about when individuals are eligible and who exactly is eligible. We answer a common question below regarding domestic partners.

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Are domestic partners eligible for COBRA?


Federal law defines COBRA qualified beneficiaries as the employee (or former employee), spouse, and children if covered under the group health plan at the time of the qualifying event. A domestic partner, therefore, is not a COBRA qualified beneficiary in his or her own right. The employee, however, may elect COBRA for his or her domestic partner, if the group health plan extends eligibility to domestic partners, since COBRA beneficiaries have the same enrollment options as active employees.

Separately, many states have enacted coverage continuation provisions under their state insurance laws. These often are referred to as “mini-COBRA” laws. Certain states that provide protections for domestic partnerships or civil unions may also extend their mini-COBRA provisions. Mini-COBRA provisions, if any, will be described in the carrier’s group policy.

This blog is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.

Kim Harry