I’m on an individual and spouse Cobra Plan. Can we switch to a family health insurance plan?

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Asked January 7, 2013

1 Answer


COBRA is not an insurance plan. The Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act was enacted in order to prevent people with health insurance from losing their coverage solely because their employment came to an end. What the law says is that you have the right to continue your health insurance coverage after losing or changing jobs, but you must pay the full premiums, including any portion previously paid by the employer.

While using the COBRA plan, you are allowed to make any changes that would be available under the employer sponsored plan, including adding or removing covered persons, or changing the plan from individual to a family plan. For example, if you have a child born while using COBRA, you could switch to a family insurance plan offered by your insurance company.

COBRA is an expensive way to keep health insurance. The idea behind the law is to give you time to find another insurance plan, either group or individual, not to take the place of having such a plan. Because COBRA requires you to pay your full premiums, it is far more costly than even an individual insurance plan. While using COBRA, it is a good idea to shop for a new health plan and to make the transition as quickly as possible.

Unless a family member suffers from a preexisting condition which excludes them from insurance coverage, it is much better to shop around for a more affordable insurance plan. Another health insurance law, the Affordable Care Act, will require all insurance companies to accept applicants with preexisting conditions by January 1, 2014. COBRA may still be the only option for many families, but many companies have already made the transition and the rest must follow suit in a short time.

Answered January 7, 2013 by Anonymous

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