Does COBRA eligibility disqualify me from a subsidy on an exchange?

A reader asks if COBRA disqualifies him from obtaining a subsidy on an exchange.

Question: Our family income for 2014 will be approximately $30,000. I am currently eligible for COBRA and I'm currently paying $975 per month. When I complete an application on, the result is that I don't receive any credits. When I redo the application and answer 'no' to the COBRA eligibility question, then the system gives me a substantial credit. So, does COBRA eligibility eliminate my chance to receive credits under the ACA?


Answer: Your eligibility for COBRA coverage does not disqualify you from obtaining a subsidy on an exchange. If you enrolled in a COBRA plan, you can switch to a subsidized exchange policy, if you qualify for one, during anopen enrollment period. The next one will begin onNovember 15. If you enroll ina COBRA plan and it expires before then, you can purchase an exchange plan right away without waiting. Termination of COBRA eligibility is considered a "qualifying life event" that enables you to purchase coverage between open enrollment periods.


Robert I. Field, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H. is a professor of law at the Earle Mack School of Law and professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health at Drexel University. He also writes for The Field Clinic blog. Ask Rob your questions about the new healthcare law.