Should I take COBRA when I leave my job?

COBRA is a federal law requiring companies with 20 or more full-time employees to offer group health continuation to workers that leave the job (unless fired for cause).

COBRA allows you to maintain the coverage you are accustomed to. There are no limitations, exclusions or waiting periods. COBRA may be a good option if you expect to enroll in another group health plan soon or if you have a pre-existing health condition.

On the other hand, COBRA can be expensive. The employer does not contribute to the cost of your insurance premium when you leave. You are responsible for the full amount plus a two percent administrative fee. In addition, COBRA is temporary. Continuation typically lasts 18 months, but can be extended to 36 months in cases of disability.

You have 60 days to make a decision about COBRA. Use this time to explore other health insurance options. Consider individual coverage through Illinois' Health Insurance Marketplace. You qualify for mid-year enrollment since you are leaving a job that provides group health insurance. Look into individual coverage from traditional health insurance companies as well. Insurers offer a variety of product and pricing options. Does your spouse receive health insurance through another employer? You have a 30-day window to be added as a dependent on your spouse's group plan.

Explore the possibilities and make an informed decision about COBRA.