What happens when COBRA continuation coverage ends?

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Will I lose health coverage when my COBRA continuation coverage ends?

COBRA continuation coverage can provide months of cushioning before you need to find new coverage, but eventually you’ll have to explore other options. Rest assured, you have several ways to stay covered, including:

  • An individual plan through Kaiser Permanente for Individuals and Families — which you can buy directly through Kaiser Permanente or your state’s Health Benefit Exchange

  • Medicaid (Kaiser Permanente may not offer a Medicaid plan in all Kaiser Permanente regions)* and other federal and state health coverage programs — especially if you’re still unemployed when your COBRA continuation coverage ends, or if you have children)

  • Additional state-sponsored COBRA continuation coverage (availability varies by region)

  • Coverage through a new employer, or as a dependent on your spouse or partner’s plan

*If you qualify for Medicaid in your state, you may be eligible to receive your Medicaid health care with Kaiser Permanente.

How soon could my new coverage start?

If you buy a Kaiser Permanente Individual or Family plan through Kaiser Permanente or the Health Benefit Exchange, coverage may start the first day of the month after you lose your coverage, depending on when you apply.

Will I be able to get financial assistance?

Depending on your family size and income level, you may be able to get in a number of ways. You may qualify for:

  • Federal financial assistance to help pay your monthly membership bill, or reduced out-of-pocket costs for care

  • Coverage through Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or other government-funded programs

  • Financial assistance through Kaiser Permanente’s Medical Financial Assistance and Charitable Health Coverage programs (not available in all Kaiser Permanente regions).

To find out if you qualify:

  • Check healthcare.gov or your state’s Health Benefit Exchange to see if you qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, or other government-funded programs.

  • To learn about Kaiser Permanente’s Medical Financial Assistance and Charitable Health Coverage programs, visit kp.org/mfa and kp.org/chc.

When do I need to apply?

Depending on your circumstances, the deadline to enroll varies. If you have a major life event — known as a qualifying life event — like losing COBRA coverage, getting married or divorced, or having a baby, you can apply for coverage for a limited time outside the yearly open enrollment period. This is called a special enrollment period.

  • If you’re applying for an individual plan, you have a special enrollment period that typically lasts 60 days from the date of your life event, but in some cases extends from 60 days before to 60 days after the event.

  • If you’re applying for employer-based coverage, you also have a special enrollment period, but in this case it lasts at least 30 days from the date of your life event — duration varies by employer.

  • If state COBRA coverage is available, you need to sign up by the date specified in your COBRA election notice. Check your election notice to confirm your deadline.

  • If you opt for COBRA coverage, you can sign up within 60 days of the date you lose coverage or the date you get your COBRA election notice — whichever is later. For state COBRA coverage, sign up by the date specified in your COBRA election notice. Check your election notice to confirm your deadline.

  • If you qualify for Medicaid, you can apply anytime — with no time restrictions.

You’ll want to act quickly: If you don’t apply by your deadline, you’ll usually need to wait until the following year’s open enrollment period to apply for new coverage.

Let's get started

To find the right coverage for you, just answer a few questions.