Skip to main content

IBX Insights

Alternatives to COBRA

By February 18, 2022March 10th, 2023Enrollment Health Insurance
Couple Carrying Boxes Into New Home On Moving Day

What should you do if you’ve lost your employer/group health care coverage and the annual Open Enrollment Period is over? First, don’t panic. You may have health care coverage options other than COBRA coverage through your employer.

What Is COBRA For?

COBRA — The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act — is a temporary extension of employer-provided health coverage. It’s offered to employees and their families who have lost their group health care coverage due to specific events. Unfortunately, COBRA can be more expensive because the employee is responsible for paying the full cost of health care coverage (including what had once been the employer’s share).

Is There a More Affordable Option Than COBRA Coverage?

More affordable options may be available to you on your state or federal health insurance marketplaces, through Medicaid/CHIP, or from private health insurance companies like Independence Blue Cross. To be eligible to enroll for coverage outside of the annual Open Enrolment Period, you may need to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

To be eligible for a SEP, you must experience a qualifying life event, which includes:

  • Losing your job
  • Getting divorced
  • Death of a spouse
  • Having or adopting a baby*
  • Moving permanently to a new coverage area

Learn more about qualifying life events and the timing of Special Enrollment Periods. What is a qualifying life event?

If you have a qualifying life event, know that you may be able to apply for an affordable new health insurance plan from Independence Blue Cross. In 2022, we are offering the widest choice for quality care in the region. There may be other unique situations that can qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period. If you believe you are eligible but do not see your life event listed above, please call us at 1-888-475-6206.

When Can I Buy Health Insurance During the Special Enrollment Period?

If you experience a qualifying life event, you can enroll for health insurance within 60 days of your life event.

In some scenarios, you can submit your application early to prevent a gap in health care coverage (going without health insurance). If you experience a loss of health care coverage, you have the option of applying up to 60 days before your loss of coverage. Note that you can apply for a new plan 30 days before your permanent move to a new area.

If you don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, your next opportunity to apply for health care coverage is the 2023 annual Open Enrollment Period, which starts on November 1, 2022.

*If you already have an Independence Blue Cross health plan, and you welcome a new baby or get married, you can add your baby or spouse to your current health plan under our standard policy change process.
Brett Mayfield

Brett Mayfield is senior vice president and market president — local. He joined Independence Blue Cross in 1991 and is responsible for the new business and retention of Independence’s Consumer, Small Group, and Middle Market segments. Brett graduated from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He currently resides in Maple Glen, Pennsylvania with his family.