Step by Step COBRA Insurance Guide

Easy to understand guide to assessing your options and enrolling in COBRA insurance


Doctor looking at chart


For anyone who recently lost, quit, or retired from their job, likely you have many things on your mind, including how to determine if COBRA insurance is the right health insurance plan. Since COBRA insurance can be very expensive and has a specific time limit, it is important to fully explore all of your options before enrolling. This will ensure that you have the right health insurance plan in the short and long term based on your income and health needs.

To help you determine the right plan for you and your family, follow these simple steps completely. They will help you to assess your needs, analyze your options, and decide on a plan that works for you and your family. There are many different medical insurance plans on the market and it is important to understand all of the options.

Step 1: Analyze your Health Insurance Options

The best first step that anyone can take when considering COBRA insurance is to fully analyze and assess their health insurance needs. Based on your budget, age, current health conditions, family, and health needs, there are many different decisions that you may make about health insurance.

Determine your Health Insurance Needs

The very first thing to do when thinking about whether or not you should use COBRA insurance is to think about the health insurance needs of each member of your family. Many people do not realize that it is possible to keep some people on COBRA insurance while placing other family members on more affordable private insurance plans. For anyone with preexisting conditions, serious health needs, on expensive prescription medication, or who is or may become pregnant in the near future, COBRA insurance is likely the most affordable option. However, if other family members are generally healthy and do not require consistent ongoing medical care, a private health insurance plan may be more cost-effective.

In addition to thinking about current health status, you should also consider how frequently you want to see the doctor. If you want to be able to have regular appointments, check-ups, and visits, you will need a full service plan like COBRA insurance or a private individual or family plan. If you are fine only going to the doctor for emergencies, you would likely be fine with a short term, high deductible, or catastrophic plan.

Assess your Health Insurance Budget

After determining your health insurance needs, next it is time to assess your budget for health insurance. Figure out how much you can realistically afford to spend monthly on health insurance and then compare that to the cost of COBRA insurance as well as other health insurance plan options. Make sure when you are assessing the cost of any health insurance plan that you also assess the cost of co-payments, deductibles, and prescriptions.

Get Health Insurance Quotes

As part of any complete health insurance assessment to determine the best plan for you and your family, you should always get health insurance quotes form multiple companies for multiple plan options. You can use our free health insurance quotes page to get these free, instant quotes.

Create your Health Insurance Plan

Lastly, from there you should complete your health insurance plan and make final decisions about COBRA insurance and other health insurance options. This may include having some family members on COBRA insurance and others on more affordable health insurance options.

Step 2: Complete your COBRA Insurance Election Form

If you decide to enroll in COBRA insurance for you or any of your family members, you will need to complete and submit an election form. This form should be provided by your employer within 14 days of your last day of coverage. You will then have 60 days to submit the COBRA election form. When you submit your election form you will need to pay the entire premium as well to activate COBRA insurance coverage.

Step 3: Pay your COBRA Insurance Premium

It is extremely important that you pay your COBRA insurance premium on time every month otherwise your COBRA insurance plan will be cancelled. If at any time you do not think you will be able to pay on time or in full, you should reach out to your group health insurance provider and ask for an extension. When you enroll in COBRA insurance, you will also need to pay the premium amount due for the entire coverage period since COBRA is retroactive to the day coverage ended. That means if you take the full 60 days to enroll in COBRA, you will need to pay 2 months premium upon enrollment.

Step 4: Continually Assess Your Health Insurance Needs

Finally, in order to make sure you always have the right insurance plan for you, it is important to always assess your health insurance situation. COBRA insurance can be dropped at any point. This means if you get a new job, qualify for alternative insurance, or find a better health insurance option, you can stop using COBRA insurance.