I just ended my job and got the COBRA notice. Do I have to take the COBRA plan or can I go to the exchange to get something cheaper? I heard something about having a group plan means you are not allowed to go to the exchange. So if the COBRA plan counts, I’m stuck with it. This doesn’t seem fair to cut me out of the discounts I could get on the exchange.
Dear Pink Slipped,
Sorry to hear about your job ending, though you don’t seem too broken up about it.
You do qualify for subsidies to buy a health plan on the exchange, even though you have a group plan offered to you via COBRA. It’s true that your COBRA is considered a group plan, but the exchange and its subsidies are still available to you. This is one of the few situations where a person can choose between a group plan and an exchange plan.
(The other situation is when the group plan costs more than 9.5 percent of your income to cover yourself.)
Compare your options carefully. Depending upon your income, your health needs, and your COBRA plan’s leanness (or generosity), one plan or the other may be better for you. Whichever one you choose, plan to stick with it until you find another job with benefits or until the next open enrollment. You can’t switch plans willy nilly whenever you feel like it.