How do I enroll in COBRA coverage? How do I enroll in COBRA alternative coverage?

An eligible plan participant or beneficiary must notify the employer's plan administrator within 60 days after divorce or legal separation or a child's ceasing to be covered as a dependent under plan rules. The plan administrator must respond by sending the participants and beneficiaries an enrollment form within 14 days after the administrator receives that notice that a qualifying event has occurred. The enrollment of the insurance. Once the individual receives that enrollment form, they have 60 days to decide whether to elect COBRA continuation coverage and return the form to the plan administrator. The person then has 45 days after electing coverage to pay the initial premium. The entire COBRA enrollment process typically takes about months after the date of termination of group coverage.

Enrollment in COBRA alternate coverage is far more flexible. Most COBRA alternative insurance enrollments are handled online an therefore may be completed at any time 24/7/365. The process is usually to find a list of insurance plans available, narrow down the choices and obtain online price quotes, and then select one that is the best value. Enrollment generally takes only a few minutes online and a confirmation of enrollment is shown on the screen and sent via e-mail. Some insurance plans show an immediate confirmation of coverage whereas others have a specified manual underwriting procedure that may take several days or more.

One key distinction between the two types of health plans is that responsibilities for handling COBRA enrollment are shared between the employer, the administrator and the enrollee. For COBRA alternative plans, the process is handled entirely by the enrollee.  

Other resources:

Finding health insurance to cover pre-existing medical conditions

Six strategies in the search for affordable health insurance

Step by step guide to replacing group health insurance when changing jobs

revised 12/7/09

(back to index of frequently asked questions about COBRA coverage) provides help with COBRA issues

COBRA continuation coverage may provide temporary protection when changing jobs, going through a divorce or negotiating other life transitions. Choosing the right health insurance is crucial to protect your health and financial security.