Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation


Main content start

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows you to temporarily continue coverage in Stanford-sponsored health plans if you, or one of your covered dependents, lose coverage.

Your Stanford medical, dental and vision benefits stop at the end of the month in which you are no longer benefits eligible – either because your employment ends, you start working less than 50 percent time or you start working in a non-benefits-eligible position. COBRA coverage begins the first day of the following month.

A COBRA notification and enrollment package will be mailed to the address on file in StanfordYou by Stanford’s COBRA administrator, Vita Companies. You have a 60-day period to elect COBRA; you pay your premiums to Vita Companies directly.

2024 COBRA Rates

The following plans are covered under COBRA:

  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Health care flexible spending account (FSA)

COBRA Plan Information



Certain events make you eligible for up to 18 months of COBRA, including:

  • You voluntarily leave Stanford
  • You retire from Stanford
  • Stanford ends your employment for any reason, unless you were terminated because of gross misconduct
  • The number of hours you are scheduled to work at Stanford is reduced below that required for benefits eligibility
  • You become disabled

In some cases, your covered dependents can continue coverage up to 36 months, such as:

  • You are divorced or legally separated
  • You die while you are covered under eligible plans
  • Your dependent no longer qualifies as a covered dependent

If you get divorced, your ex-spouse can continue coverage under COBRA for up to 36 months. Ex-spouses are not allowed to remain as covered dependents on university plans. Stanford provides the same amount of continued coverage to registered domestic partners or same-sex spouses. Learn more in Life Events.

If you are enrolled in Medicare Parts A or B at the time you become eligible for COBRA, you can elect COBRA. However, if you are already enrolled in COBRA and you subsequently enroll in Medicare Part A or B, your COBRA coverage will be terminated effective the date you are enrolled in Part A or B. Read about Medicare Eligibility.

How to EnrollVita will send an enrollment package to you if you or your covered dependents become eligible for COBRA. To elect COBRA coverage, you and/or your covered dependents must complete the COBRA enrollment and return it to Vita Companies within the deadlines stated in the packet.
How it Works
  • Once you make any required COBRA premium payments, you’ll become eligible for services in your insurance carrier’s database.
  • Premiums are 102 percent of the full group rate.
  • If you have an 11-month disability extension, your premium will be 150 percent of the plan’s total cost of coverage.
  • If you receive a COBRA premium subsidy, we’ll pay a portion of your medical premiums for the first three months, as long as you enroll for COBRA and pay your share. At the end of three months, you’re responsible for the full COBRA cost. There is no subsidy for dental or vision, so you pay the full cost for these plans.
  • Cal-COBRA, the state version of the federal plan, is available to HMO plan participants in California when federal COBRA ends. Contact Vita Companies with any questions.
  • If you are enrolled in an HMO plan and move out of the service area, you can immediately switch to another available plan and continue your COBRA at the new rate. Contact Vita Companies to report your new address and make the change.
  • If applicable, you’ll be offered COBRA to continue your health care FSA; if you don’t enroll in COBRA, you can still submit eligible FSA claims through April 30 for the previous plan year, but only for services incurred before the end of the month in which you terminate.

If you receive an MCAP subsidy, it ends the last day of the month in which your employment ends and is not considered part of Stanford’s contribution toward COBRA.

When Coverage Ends

If you exhaust COBRA or lose COBRA eligibility, under the HIPAA Special Enrollment Rights you may enroll in a group health plan or a Health Insurance Marketplace plan outside of the annual Open Enrollment period.

  • Examples: If you lose eligibility for group health coverage, you may be able to special enroll in a spouse's plan. A dependent losing eligibility for group health coverage may be able to enroll in a different parent's group health plan.

If you choose to terminate COBRA early with no special enrollment opportunity at that time, you generally will have to wait to enroll in other coverage during the next open enrollment period for eligible group health plans or Marketplace plans.

Alternative to COBRA

Under the HIPAA Special Enrollment Rights, losing your Stanford coverage qualifies you to enroll in a Health Insurance Marketplace plan outside of the annual Open Enrollment period. In the Marketplace, you can shop and compare private health insurance options before you decide to enroll in COBRA. Through the Marketplace, you can learn if you qualify for free or low-cost coverage from Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Eligibility for COBRA won't limit your eligibility for Marketplace coverage or for any tax credits that lower your monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs.