When there is no COBRA

One of my co-workers was ushered out of the office last week and was fired.  I don’t know what happened, but no one is talking about it.  I’ve heard on the grapevine that he’s not getting COBRA coverage.  I feel bad for him because I know his son has ADD and takes expensive drugs for it.  I don’t understand how the company can refuse to give him COBRA.  Is that legal?

Edgy Survivor

Dear Edgy Survivor,

Yes, there is one circumstance where an employer can refuse to offer an employee COBRA:  when the employee is fired for gross misconduct. The hush-hush circumstances of your co-worker’s exit hint at some legal or ethical issue.  This is probably what happened to him.

The COBRA rule itself does not give a definition for “gross misconduct”. This leaves some — perhaps too much — room for judgment by the employer.

No need for you to be edgy, as long as you stay on the right side of the lines.

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Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.