Q&A on options after COBRA expires

Periodically, our experts at receive questions from consumers who are looking for guidance in the health insurance market. This question came to us recently.
Question: I am 59 years old and my wife is 54, our Cobra policy will be ending in September. Where do we go from here after our Cobra expires? Thanks for your assistance.

Answer: If you have exhausted COBRA and met other requirements, you will be ‘HIPAA eligible’ for coverage as an individual. HIPAA eligible means that all of the following are true:

  • you have 18 months of creditable coverage, the last day of which was group coverage,
  • you have exhausted any COBRA or state continuation coverage you are eligible for,
  • and you have not had more than a 63 day break in coverage.

Being federally eligible means that you have guaranteed access to individual health insurance coverage and will not be subject to any pre-existing condition exclusion periods.

Each state uses different methods to guarantee your access to coverage. Some states require individual health insurers to cover you while others may guarantee you high-risk pool coverage. Your state may use different options from these.

For more information about buying health insurance in your state, see our Consumer Guides to Getting and Keeping Health Insurance, available at

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