Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • COBRA healthcare coverage is required to be offered by law to any employee that has current coverage through a group health insurance plan.
  • You can only switch to Obamacare plans after the COBRA coverage ends if you have elected to receive this plan coverage
  • COBRA coverage can be expensive, but you can file a hardship exemption if you can no longer afford the plan.
  • Switching to an Obamacare plan after COBRA coverage ends is a matter of locating the right plan through the marketplace
  • File an exemption, get an Obamacare policy or find an affordable option on the open market to avoid the financial penalties of not carrying qualifying health insurance coverage

What is COBRA health insurance coverage?

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COBRA is a federal law that protects workers that have lost their jobs and need to maintain coverage through the group health insurance plan.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act applies to any employer that has over 20 full-time employees, even if they are self-insured. Tax-exempt churches and governmental agencies do not have to offer COBRA healthcare coverage.

COBRA coverage should be offered once you are terminated, or decide to leave a job voluntarily. The only stipulation is that you have to have current health insurance through the existing group plan. It can be expensive to maintain, especially if you are currently without an income. It does provide a way to maintain needed health insurance when you have a family member that is dependent on medical services.

Enter your zip code above to compare free health insurance quotes online and explore your private coverage options today.

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Can you switch from COBRA to Obamacare?


You cannot elect out of COBRA coverage unless it has ended. Trying to drop the coverage due to the expense could earn you a penalty for not maintaining adequate coverage. Any current offer of insurance has to be accepted.

The only way to avoid this problem is to get Obamacare instead of the COBRA alternative at the time you leave the job. You have up to 60 days to get and maintain health insurance after losing coverage through an employer. You do not have to worry about whether it is open enrollment time, or not.

Losing employer-sponsored health insurance is considered reason enough for a special enrollment period. Consider the costs and current income before agreeing to COBRA coverage.

What if you can no longer afford COBRA coverage?


The cost of COBRA health insurance coverage can induce sticker shock. You are required to pay 100 percent of the premiums to retain the plan coverage. This is because the employer is no longer obligated to pay the share they would normally carry. It can end up costing hundreds of dollars each month, depending on the level of coverage and number of people covered.

If the cost has made continuing prohibitive, access the marketplace and file for a hardship exemption. This will allow you to enter the open market and shop around for a more affordable plan, or at least gain catastrophic healthcare coverage for you and your family.

How to Switch to Obamacare When COBRA Ends

Switching to an Obamacare plan once COBRA coverage ends is easy. All you have to do is set up an account in the marketplace and begin shopping for the best plan, at the best rate for your situation. Make sure you begin searching for needed coverage during the last month of COBRA coverage to avoid being without health insurance.

You do not have to worry about enrollment periods when the COBRA coverage ends. Losing job-based health insurance qualifies you for a 60 day special enrollment period to find adequate coverage.

This will allow you plenty of time to find the perfect plan that suits your medical needs.

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Avoiding the Penalty for Lack of Health Insurance


Every individual and family is expected to carry minimum essential coverage for healthcare since passage of the Affordable Care Act. Not having the basic healthcare policy in place can create a financial burden for your entire family.

You will be issued a penalty for every individual in the home that is without qualifying coverage, for the entire length of time they are without health insurance. This can easily add up to hundreds of dollars per year.

There are a few options available if you are unable to find an affordable plan on the marketplace. You can:

  • Apply for Medicaid and CHIP benefits, where available.
  • File for a hardship exemption and seek catastrophic healthcare coverage.
  • Check out available policies on the open market.

The important thing about health insurance is to not be caught without an active policy. Take the steps necessary to ensure you have the mandatory coverage at all times.

Consider all of your healthcare coverage options before signing up to a COBRA plan. Contact experts in health insurance and find out what your rights and responsibilities are in regards to healthcare coverage for you and your family today!

Click here now and enter your zip code below to compare free private health insurance quotes online and get covered to avoid the penalty!