COBRA coverage & the Marketplace

When you lose job-based insurance, you may be offered COBRA continuation coverage by your former employer.

See 2021 plans and prices to compare them to your COBRA coverage or offer.

If you qualify for COBRA premium assistance

If you qualify for COBRA continuation coverage because you or a household member had a reduction in work hours or involuntarily lost a job, you may qualify for help paying for your COBRA premiums (called "COBRA premium assistance").

COBRA premium assistance is available April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, based on when your COBRA coverage starts and how long it can last.

If you qualify:

  • Generally, you’ll have a $0 premium on your COBRA coverage for the months COBRA premium assistance is available to you.
  • You’ll get a written notice of your eligibility for COBRA premium assistance from your former employer. If you had a chance to elect COBRA coverage before but declined it, or if you previously elected COBRA coverage and ended it, you may have another chance to enroll now if you’re still within the time period that you would have had COBRA continuation coverage if you originally enrolled in it. If you didn’t get a notice and think you may qualify for COBRA premium assistance, check with your employer, former employer or health insurance company.
  • You can change from Marketplace coverage to COBRA continuation coverage, but you won’t qualify for a premium tax credit and other savings on Marketplace coverage for any month you have COBRA continuation coverage.
    • If you want to change from Marketplace coverage to COBRA coverage with COBRA premium assistance, make sure your Marketplace coverage ends on the last day before your COBRA coverage starts.
    • If your COBRA coverage starts sooner than you can end your Marketplace coverage with premium tax credit, ask your former employer to waive COBRA continuation coverage when you had Marketplace coverage. This way, you won’t have to pay back the tax credit for when you had both.

When your COBRA premium assistance ends, you can enroll in a Marketplace plan with a Special Enrollment Period. If you know your COBRA premium assistance is ending September 30, 2021, you can report a "loss of coverage" to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period starting August 1, 2021.

  • When you apply for Marketplace coverage, tell us you’re losing qualifying health coverage, and provide the last day that you’ll have COBRA coverage with premium assistance.
  • For most people, premium assistance will end September 30, 2021, but you may also qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if your COBRA coverage ends sooner.

To learn more about eligibility for COBRA premium assistance, including more on your eligibility for COBRA continuation coverage or COBRA premium assistance, visit the U.S. Department of Labor at DOL.gov.

If you already have COBRA coverage

If you’re already enrolled in COBRA, you may have options in the Marketplace.

Can you change from COBRA to a Marketplace plan?

This is a blank

If your COBRA is running outIf you’re ending COBRA earlyIf your COBRA costs change because your former employer stops contributing or you lose a government subsidy (like COBRA premium assistance) and you must pay full costIf your COBRA costs change because you lose a government subsidy, (like COBRA premium assistance) and you must pay full cost

During Open Enrollment

Yes, you can change.

Yes, you can change.

Yes, you can change.

Yes, you can change.

Outside Open Enrollment

Yes, you can change — you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

No, you can’t change until the next Open Enrollment Period, your COBRA runs out, or you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period another way.

Yes, you can change — you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

Yes, you can change — you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

More answers

Does COBRA count as qualifying health coverage (or "minimum essential coverage")?

Yes. This means if you have COBRA coverage you don’t have to pay the fee that people without coverage must pay.

What if I already signed up for COBRA but it’s too expensive?

Your options depend on whether it’s during the annual Open Enrollment Period and whether the cost for you has recently changed. See the COBRA options chart.