If your COBRA healthcare benefits are about to end, you might be feeling overwhelmed. But don’t worry! When your COBRA health insurance runs out, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period that will allow you to enroll in a new health plan.
Our independent insurance agents at McKnight & McKnight Insurance Solutions are here to help you navigate the world of insurance and get you the coverage that you need when your COBRA coverage runs out. Here’s how.
What is COBRA?
If you lose your job-based health insurance by voluntarily leaving your job, or you were terminated or laid off, you may have the option to opt-in to a COBRA or “Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act” plan.
You may also qualify for COBRA if you lose coverage because of the death of a covered spouse, divorce, legal separation, medical leave, or a child’s loss of dependent status.
In most cases, you can be covered by COBRA health insurance for 18 months from the time you lose your employer-provided insurance.
If you find yourself facing any of these qualifying events, you are likely able to keep the insurance you had by paying 100% of the premiums, including the part that your employer paid on your behalf, plus an administrative fee. It is important to note, that losing a job is a Qualifying Life Event, you will qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) if you choose to forgo COBRA healthcare benefits.
During Open Enrollment, you can sign up for a new health care plan even if you already have COBRA. Be aware, once your new plan’s coverage begins you will have to drop your COBRA coverage. If you voluntarily drop COBRA after Open Enrollment ends, you will have to wait to purchase health coverage until the next Open Enrollment Period. Only the exhaustion of your COBRA coverage at 18 or 36 months triggers an SEP.
Of course, COBRA benefits don’t last forever, since they are intended to help you stay covered during a difficult life event. So, what happens when your COBRA benefits end?
Am I Eligible for a Special Enrollment Period?
You will generally have 18 months of COBRA insurance depending on the circumstances in which you lost your job-provided insurance. You may have 36 months of coverage if you lost your insurance due to the death of a spouse or a divorce.
When your COBRA benefits run out, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period which allows you to choose your own health coverage. Be sure to take advantage of the SEP, as you’ll have more options, flexibility, and control of your health coverage than you had with your COBRA plan.
If you qualify for a special enrollment period, you have 60 days from the end of your COBRA coverage to enroll in a new healthcare plan.
Remember, you will not be eligible for a SEP if your COBRA ends due to non-payment of your premiums. In this case, you’ll have to wait to enroll at the end of the year in the Open Enrollment Period. You also may be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.
If your COBRA health coverage is coming to an end, reach out to our team at McKnight & McKnight Insurance solutions to get the coverage that you and your family need. We will help you choose a health plan based on your unique needs and situation.
Don’t wait. Remember you have 60 days once your COBRA coverage ends to choose a new health plan. Schedule a phone appointment with an independent insurance agent today!