When does COBRA coverage begin? When does COBRA alternative coverage begin?

COBRA coverage begins on the date that health care coverage would otherwise have been lost by reason of a qualifying event. Usually this means that the first day of the month following termination of employment or other qualifying event.

While there is no gap in coverage between the group coverage and the COBRA coverage, the mechanics of the transition period can create some of the same difficulties as a gap in coverage.

Individuals covered by health insurance and their medical service providers typically experience a period of difficulty obtaining a confirmation of coverage from the time that the employer terminates payment (usually the last day of the month that employment ends) and the date that the individual's payment for COBRA coverage is received and processed. The only practical solution is to resubmit claims and confirmation of coverage requests after the COBRA coverage payment is processed. In some cases, medical service providers may decline to provide additional services during this period. This appearance of a gap in coverage is commonly recognized as one of the primary weaknesses in the design of the COBRA program.  

COBRA alternate coverage usually begins on the day after enrollment unless you request a later start date. In some types of group insurance plans the coverage starts on the first day of the month following the date of enrollment.

revised 12/4/2012

(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.