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How does COBRA work? Consumer Q&A

By on April 19th, 2013
Filed: Advice, COBRA, Health Insurance

Question MarkHow does COBRA work? Is it a continuation of your old health plan or something entirely different?

Those are some questions we took last week from a woman on Yahoo Answers.

Her husband was in the process of changing jobs and the family will have a fairly sizeable gap in health coverage before his new employer health plans begins next year.

She said that, due to a pre-existing medical condition, she won’t qualify for coverage purchased on her own.

Should they enroll in COBRA? How does the process work?

The eHealthInsurance reply was voted Best Answer:

COBRA is the law allowing you to temporarily extend your employer-based health insurance coverage at your own cost. It typically lasts up 18 months. If your husband has coverage under his current employer and if his employer is subject to the COBRA law (most are), then you will be offered COBRA and must choose whether or not to enroll within 60 days of his termination date.

To be clear, COBRA isn’t cheap. You’ll be paying the premiums that were previously taken out of your husband’s wages, plus the amount his employer formerly paid towards premiums. However, if you have a pre-existing medical condition (like pregnancy) COBRA is your best option to preserve coverage.

If the cost to cover your whole family on COBRA is prohibitive, you may want to explore purchasing an individual health insurance plan for your husband, while you stick with COBRA. You may be able to save money that way. Work with a licensed online health insurance agent or one in your area to see what’s available.

Image by Flickr user DorkyMum

 

About Douglas Dalrymple


Doug Dalrymple is a member of the communications team at eHealth, Inc. and has worked in the health insurance and technology industries for fifteen years. He works on communications strategy, content creation and management, project management, and corporate messaging.

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