What Are Health Insurance Alternatives to COBRA?

Healthcare Writer

Published on May 30th, 2024

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When you leave your job, figuring out what to do about health insurance can challenging. That’s where COBRA insurance comes in, offering a way to keep your job’s health insurance for a while. But COBRA can cost a lot of money.

Because of the high costs, many people look for other choices that might be cheaper or last longer. Let’s look at some of these options:

  • Joining Your Spouse’s Health Plan: If your husband or wife has health insurance through their job, this can be an easy and less expensive choice.
  • Health Insurance Marketplace: This is an online place to shop for health insurance plans. Losing or leaving your job means you can sign up outside the normal time people sign up for insurance. You might even get money from the government to help pay for your plan.
  • Buying Insurance on Your Own: You can buy health insurance directly from insurance companies. Sometimes, talking to an insurance broker or agent can help find the best plan. But, if you don’t get help paying for it from the government, it might be pricey.
  • Medicaid: If you’re making a lot less money than before, you might qualify for Medicaid. Each state has different programs, so check the Medicaid website for your state’s rules.
  • Short-Term Health Insurance: These plans are for a short time and usually cost less, but they don’t cover as much as other plans. They often don’t cover health problems you already have.

Looking into these options might help you find health insurance that fits your needs and budget better than COBRA.


  • What is COBRA Insurance?
    • COBRA gives people who’ve lost their job or had their work hours cut the chance to keep their health insurance for a bit longer. But it’s only for certain situations like losing your job, getting divorced, or other big life changes.
  • How Much Does COBRA Insurance Cost?
    • It’s pricey because you have to pay the whole cost of your health insurance, which includes what you used to pay and what your job used to pay, plus a little extra for administration costs.
  • How Does COBRA Insurance Work?
    • If you lose your job or your work hours are cut, you can choose to keep your health insurance through COBRA. You have to decide to keep it within 60 days after your insurance would end and then pay the full cost.
  • How Long Can You Have COBRA Insurance?
    • It usually lasts for 18 months, but in some situations, it can go up to 36 months.
  • How Do You Get COBRA Insurance?
    • If you’re eligible because of something like losing your job, your employer has to let you know. Then, you have 60 days to say yes to COBRA and start paying for it.
  • Which employers have to offer COBRA?
    • Businesses that had at least 20 people working for them last year need to offer COBRA. This includes government jobs, too.
Article Sources
  1. Department of Labor. “FAQs on COBRA Continuation Health Coverage for Workers.” dol.gov (accessed February 28, 2024).
  2. Department of Labor. “An Employers Guide to Group Health Continuation Coverage under COBRA.” Dol.gov (accessed February 28, 2024).
  3. “FAQs on COBRA Continuation Health Coverage for Workers.”
  4. “FAQs on COBRA Continuation Health Coverage for Workers.”
  5. Kaiser Family Foundation. “2019 Employer Health Benefits Survey.” Kff.org (accessed February 28, 2024).
  6. The Society for Human Resource Management. “Can we pay for a former or current employee’s COBRA coverage?” shrm.org (accessed February 28, 2024).
  7. Internal Revenue Service. “Guidance on Health Savings Accounts.” irs.gov (accessed February 28, 2024).
  8. The Society for Human Resource Management. “COBRA: Duration of coverage: How long does COBRA continuation coverage last?” shrm.org (accessed February 28, 2024).

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