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Should I Elect COBRA?

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Before deciding to take COBRA, consider all other health coverage for which you may be eligible. For example:

  • Health insurance through a new employer
  • Health insurance through a spouse or partner
  • Health insurance through a group to which you belong, such as a professional or fraternal organization
  • Coverage through Medicare or Medicaid.  
  • Health insurance through the health insurance marketplace offsite link. The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from discriminating against people with existing or prior health conditions. The result is you not only are eligible for coverage, but you are charged the same rates as people with no health condition. NOTE: Once you have enrolled in COBRA, you cannot switch to a marketplace plan until the next open enrollment period.

NOTE: If you become eligible for other group coverage or from Medicare, your COBRA coverage can be cut off. This means that in most situations you would have to decline the other coverage if you decide that you prefer the COBRA coverage.

When deciding which alternative is best for you, consider:

  • When would the other coverage take effect?
  • Costs you will have to pay.
    • How much premium would you pay for COBRA and for the other coverage?
    • How much would you pay for co-pays and other costs you may have to incur? 
  • Compare other features which are important to you. For example:
    • Under the other plan, would you be able to see your current doctor(s)?
    • Are your medications on the plan formulary?
    • Do you need prior approval under one plan but not the other?
    • The reputations of the two companies when it comes to paying claims.
    • Whether there is assistance offered by the insurance company when making treatment and other medical decisions.
    • Do you have the right to purchase individual health insurance if the group coverage ends?

NOTE: In case you find that you cannot afford any health insurance even with the Affordable Care Act subsidy: for information about getting health care without insurance, see:Uninsured.

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