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Understanding COBRA Insurance in California

In California, individuals who lose job-based health coverage can opt for COBRA, which allows them to continue their employer’s plan at full cost. Alternatively, they can enroll in a Covered California plan, often at a lower cost, thanks to subsidies. These plans can be used alone or in tandem with COBRA to prevent coverage gaps. Transitioning from COBRA to Covered California is also an option, ensuring continued access to health care.

COBRA Eligibility

California Allows

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Continuing Health Insurance Coverage In California

Please choose:

No Pre-Existing Conditions
Term Medical Gap Coverage

Available in some states, as low as $44/month

Coverage For
Pre-Existing Conditions

$400 – 700/month per individual

Nearing Retirement Age

Learn about Medicare Advantage

Understanding Cal-COBRA

Cal-COBRA, also known as California’s Mini-COBRA, is a state program that extends health coverage continuation rights to employees of smaller companies with 2 to 19 employees. Unlike federal COBRA, which applies to larger employers, Cal-COBRA ensures that employees of small businesses have the option to continue their health insurance for up to 36 months after leaving their job or experiencing a reduction in work hours. This extension can be especially beneficial for those who need more time to secure alternative coverage or transition to a new job with health benefits.

Eligibility for Cal-COBRA is typically extended to individuals who were enrolled in their employer’s health plan and lost coverage due to employment termination or reduction in hours, provided it wasn’t for gross misconduct. The cost of Cal-COBRA coverage is generally higher than employee contributions during employment, as individuals must pay the full premium plus a 10% administrative fee. Despite this, Cal-COBRA remains a vital safety net for maintaining continuous health coverage, helping prevent gaps that could lead to significant out-of-pocket medical expenses.

About Cal-COBRA

Cal-COBRA, established under the California Continuation Benefits Replacement Act of 1997, extends health coverage continuation rights similar to federal COBRA but is specifically designed for employees of smaller companies with 2 to 19 employees.

The statute governing Cal-COBRA can be found in the California Insurance Code, Sections 10128.50 to 10128.59

What to Do When Federal COBRA or Cal-COBRA Options Are Exhausted

When your Federal COBRA or Cal-COBRA options are exhausted, you can explore several alternatives:

  1. Apply for Individual Coverage through Covered California: You may be eligible to obtain health insurance through Covered California, the state’s Health Benefit Exchange. Visit Covered California or call (800) 300-1506 for assistance.
  2. Direct Application through Health Plans: Some health plans offer individual coverage options directly, outside of the exchange. Contacting these health plans can provide additional coverage options.
  3. Seek Assistance from Health Consumer Alliance (HCA): For free assistance in finding and applying for health coverage, including Medi-Cal and other government programs, you can reach out to your local Health Consumer Alliance Partner. The HCA can be contacted at (888) 804-3536 for personalized help.

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Health Insurance For Pre-Existing Conditions In California

Continuing on your workplace insurance with your COBRA rights is a practical idea if you visit the doctor often or take prescription medications. It’s the same health plan that you have been on. You won’t have to start your deductibles over as the plan picks back up at the date that it stopped.

Marketplace / Obamacare

Sometimes state and federal subsidies help offset the premium for individual marketplace insurance.

A loss of work health insurance is a qualifying event to find new healthcare through the public healthcare exchange.

In 2023, the average ACA health plan premium in California was $411/month per individual, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

You May Qualify For A Subsidy

Apply For COBRA

Employer Has 20+ Employees

As an employee, you may continue your most recent work health insurance for up to 18 months. Family members may access the plan for up to 36 months.

You sign up for COBRA with your former employer or their third party.

The premium will be $400 – 700 / month, per insured person.

California Mini-COBRA

Employer Has Two Or More Employees

In California, all employers are compelled to offer a continuation of worker’s health insurance. The human resources department or their third-party administrator will notify you on how to apply.

Short-Term Health Insurance For Those In Good Health

In California, you are able to bridge your insurance gap using an accident-only major medical plan.

Accident Only Insurance with Telehealth

Coverage begins as early as midnight tonight.

Pre-existing Conditions Do Not Exclude You From Accident Only Coverage

Plans start at $44/month.
Based on age and state availability

Includes Telehealth giving you access to prescribing doctors for common issues.

Accidents happen, and the last thing you want to worry about is who or how the bills are going to get paid. With this plan, you can focus on getting care. CAM helps you and your family with the high cost of healthcare resulting from injury or accidents.

Limited Indemnity with Telehealth

Includes Telehealth giving you
access to prescribing doctors for common issues.

Core Health Insurance provides guaranteed acceptance Limited Indemnity Medical coverage for your basic medical needs, helping to provide a medical option for people who do not have the luxury of being covered by a comprehensive health insurance plan.

Coverage begins as early as midnight tonight.


After your workplace insurance ends, you’ll sign up for Medicare within 8 months.

In general, you can sign up for Part A and Part B starting three months before your 65th birthday and ending three months after your 65th birthday.

Learn more about Medicare deadlines and how Medicare Advantage plans can replace original Medicare at no cost to you.

COBRA Is Available in All 50 States

Employee continuation of health insurance coverage is not required in all states. When a state lacks laws governing the continuation of work-related medical benefits, the federal COBRA Act protects these rights. Find out more about your state.

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