COBRA vs. Health Insurance Marketplace FAQ

If you’ve been faced with a job change, it's important to find the best option to keep your health insurance coverage. Traditionally, the only option has been an expensive one — to continue your plan through COBRA.

You may not be familiar with the Health Insurance Marketplace (HIM) and the plans available, especially as an affordable alternative option to COBRA. Not only are Marketplace plans less expensive than COBRA, 80% of people will usually qualify for financial help from the government (called a subsidy) to help pay their premium.

Below is an overview of Group, COBRA and Marketplace Plans:
  Group Plan COBRA Marketplace Plan
What's covered? Usually full coverage with prescription drug benefits. Usually full coverage with prescription drug benefits. Usually full coverage with prescription drug benefits.
When can they enroll? Typically offered to employees on a full-time status within a designated time from their date of hire. Within 60 days, retroactive from the date of job loss. Within 60 days from the date of job loss.
How long is coverage available? As long as employed full time and employer offers coverage. Typically 18-36 months. Coverage is active as long as monthly premium payments are made. Coverage will need to be renewed at the end of the calendar year. 
How much does coverage cost? Varies by plan and employer. Many employers cover some portion of the plan’s cost.  The same as the qualifying group plan, but the employee pays the full plan cost, plus a COBRA administration fee.  Varies by plan selected. Generally, these plans are significantly less than COBRA, and most people also qualify for financial assistance (subsidies) that reduce their premiums and in some cases further reduce copays, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. 

Health Insurance Marketplace FAQs