COBRA enrollees could save thousands by buying individual insurance


Private individual insurance is more affordable than COBRA, according to a new study published Sept. 2 by eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH), the company announced in a statement today.

When people who are eligible for COBRA enroll in self-purchased health insurance instead, they may save as much as $2,750 annually (about $229 per month) for individual coverage or $8,674 annually (about $723 per month) for family coverage, the statement said.

eHealth used data from the Kaiser Family Foundation's 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey to estimate average premium costs for COBRA coverage and found individuals pay $6,002 per year (about $500 per month), while families pay around $16,678 per year (about $1,390 per month) under COBRA.

By contrast, eHealth's May 2014 Health Insurance Price Index report found that average premiums for individually-purchased health insurance plans selected by eHealth customers during the last nationwide open enrollment period were:

  • $3,252 per year ($271 per month) for individual coverage
  • $8,004 per year ($667 per month) for family coverage

COBRA regulation will likely continue to evolve and confound both employers and employees in the years to come, regardless of healthcare reform's impact, according to an issue brief published by SHPS HR Solutions

For many employees, electing to continue their healthcare coverage under COBRA may make the most sense, but there are other options to consider. Employers that provide them with a benefits exchange to shop for the most appropriate coverage will not only have an opportunity to reduce their COBRA liability from both a cost and regulatory standpoint, but also empower people who aface termination of employment to become better healthcare consumers, the brief says.

For more:
- read the eHealth statement
- check out this SHPS white paper (.pdf)

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