What am I required to do to enroll in COBRA continuation coverage? What about COBRA alternative coverage?

Plan participants and COBRA beneficiaries generally must respond in writing to the plan administrator within 60 days after receipt of a COBRA continuation coverage offer and then pay the initial premium within 45 days after electing coverage. An enrollee cannot initiate enrollment in COBRA until notified by the plan administrator. This notice could be as late as 45 days after the end of the last month of group coverage, or in some cases, as long as 75 days after termination of employment or other qualifying date.

Both the election and premium payment are usually sent by mail, although electronic COBRA enrollments are gradually becoming more common.

To enroll in COBRA alternative coverage, an applicant must initiate and complete an online application with the initial premium payment, usually in the form of an online bank card or electronic check authorization. Some COBRA alternatives allow a paper application but this is becoming increasingly rare as the large majority of enrollees prefer the speed, security and convenience of electronic enrollment.

revised 3/1/09

(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.