Question: My Cobra will expire on 4/30/09 and I will not turn 65 until Aug of 2010. Can I contact someone to continue Cobra or an Individual plan? Should I contact the current carrier I have had for the past 15 months?
Answer: When your COBRA health insurance coverage expires you will qualify for guaranteed issue health insurance coverage under the federal HIPAA law.
Most health insurance companies who market individual health insurance offer HIPAA qualified coverage. HIPAA plans are usually high deductible PPO plans at a substantial mark-up over the standard rate for a "healthy" applicant. The idea being that HIPAA applicants are a greater risk as a group. You may be able to purchase a HIPAA plan from your current insurer, but can shop for HIPAA plans from any other carrier in your state.