Do You Have to Mail a COBRA Letter Certified?

COBRA insurance prevents unemployed workers from losing their health insurance, an essential benefit during a financially stressful time. Receiving COBRA coverage can be a fairly simple process. However, a key element of that process is properly submitting the necessary documentation.


Under federally mandated guidelines, employers are required to send former employees COBRA election information within specific time frames. The employer's benefits administrator must send COBRA documents within 14 days of being advised of the employee's separation. In addition, the former employee is allowed 60 days to choose COBRA coverage, and 45 days to make the first payment.


Health plan administrators not only mail COBRA election information within designated time frames, but the information should provide clear instructions; this includes detailing how to return documents. If an employer requests documents to be mailed certified, then send as instructed. However, in general, sending letters or documents using first class mail is sufficient.


COBRA coverage helps many families retain health insurance after a job loss, but it is often expensive. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus plan), certain unemployed individuals may qualify for a premium subsidy. Contact your former employer or visit the Department of Labor's site for qualification information.