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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

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COBRA and COBRA alternatives

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If you notice an error or are in doubt, please send a new question by email or ask for an update. Email

Q: I resigned from my permanent employer on 03-Jun-2005 to be a full-time consultant and I have not had any interaction with Cobra since then. Does that mean that I no longer can use Cobra coverage (either "COBRA plans" or "COBRA alternative plans")?

A: COBRA law requires proof of notification to eligible employees (usually certified mail to exiting employees) and you apparently did not receive that notification. This means that you are still eligible to enroll in continued group health insurance coverage now if you wish. The problem is that you would need to immediately pay the thousands of dollars due for coverage retroactive to the end of your group insurance. If you have not had claims or significant pre-existing medical conditions, it would be silly to make that large payment. A range of more affordable options commonly referred to as "COBRA alternatives" that provide better value are listed at


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