Unemployed people

COBRA coverage and the Marketplace

If you have COBRA continuation coverage from a job you’ve left, you can keep it. In some cases, you can buy a Marketplace health plan instead.

COBRA and the Health Insurance Marketplace

When you leave a job for any reason, you may be able to keep your job-based health coverage for a period, usually up to 18 months. This is called COBRA continuation coverage.

With COBRA coverage, you usually have to pay the entire monthly premium yourself, plus a small administrative fee. Your former employer no longer pays any of your insurance costs.

COBRA continuation coverage qualifies as minimum essential coverage. This means if you have COBRA coverage you don’t have the pay the fee that people without coverage must pay.

Coverage and savings options if you have COBRA

If you have COBRA, your coverage and savings options depend on 2 things:

  • If it's during an annual Open Enrollment Period
  • If you’re dropping your COBRA coverage before it runs out

Replacing COBRA with Marketplace coverage

Outside Open Enrollment

  • If your COBRA coverage is ending outside the annual Open Enrollment Period, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. This means you can enroll in a private health plan through the Marketplace outside Open Enrollment.

  • If you’re ending your COBRA coverage early outside the annual Open Enrollment Period, you can’t enroll in a Marketplace plan at all, with or without savings based on your income.

During Open Enrollment

During the annual Open Enrollment Period you can drop your COBRA coverage and get a plan through the Marketplace instead. This is true even if your COBRA coverage hasn’t run out.

You may qualify for premium tax credits and other savings on a Marketplace plan. This will depend on your income and household size.

When you fill out a Marketplace application, you’ll also find out if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).