What if I currently have COBRA coverage?



If you have COBRA continuation coverage you can keep it or, in some cases, buy a Marketplace health plan instead.

Your coverage and savings options depend on 2 things:

  • If you’re changing from COBRA to a Marketplace plan during Open Enrollment or after it ends

  • If you’re dropping your COBRA coverage before it runs out

COBRA and the Health Insurance Marketplace

When you leave a job, 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.

Replacing COBRA with Marketplace coverage

Outside Open Enrollment

Outside Open Enrollment, your choices and savings will depend on whether your COBRA coverage is running out or you’re ending it early.

  • If your COBRA coverage is ending outside Open Enrollment, you qualify for a special enrollment period. This means you can enroll in a private health plan through the Marketplace. You may qualify for tax credits that can lower your monthly premiums and for lower out-of-pocket costs. This will depend on your household size and income.

  • If you’re ending your COBRA coverage early outside Open Enrollment, you will not be able to enroll in a Marketplace plan at all, with our without lower costs.

During the next Open Enrollment period, or when your COBRA coverage expires, you could enroll in a Marketplace plan and be eligible to get premium tax credits and lower out-of-pocket costs, depending on your income.

During Open Enrollment

During the 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.

Important: Open Enrollment for coverage in 2014 ended March 31, 2014. The Open Enrollment period for 2015 coverage is November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015.

When you end your COBRA coverage and apply for a Marketplace plan during Open Enrollment, you may qualify for tax credits that can lower your monthly premiums and for lower out-of-pocket costs. This will depend on your household size and income.

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

If you’re planning to replace your COBRA coverage, it’s important not to let your COBRA coverage end before your Marketplace plan starts. Otherwise there will be a gap in your coverage.