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How to Sign Up for Free Cobra Health Insurance and Who Qualifies

The latest coronavirus relief law, which President Biden signed Thursday, gives many workers who have been laid off over the past year the option to resume employer-based health insurance coverage free from April 1 through Sept. 30.

Normally, such coverage—available to former employees under a federal law known as Cobra—is expensive, averaging about $600 a month for individuals and $2,000 a month for families, said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow specializing in private health insurance at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

As a result, she said, many who are laid off don’t get Cobra coverage.

To help the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs recently obtain affordable health insurance, the law also increases subsidies to people who buy Affordable Care Act plans.

What follows are details of who is eligible for the free Cobra coverage, how it will work, and what to consider before taking it.

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