COBRA allows individuals to continue coverage under an employer’s group health plan for up to 18 months after their employment ends.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) complicates the COBRA election by offering more options.
Say for example, you are contemplating early retirement in March. Under COBRA, you could continue in your employer’s group plan starting April 1st.
But the ACA also gives you the right to buy your own coverage – without regard to pre-existing conditions – when you leave the group (in this case, on April 1st) or, during the open enrollment period at year end.
The cost of coverage purchased on your own might be less than your COBRA premium, especially if you qualify for Marketplace premium subsidies. Note however, you will not be given credit for any portion of the calendar year deductible already satisfied under the employer’s group plan.