Before you elect COBRA, call the number on the back of you health insurance card. Sometimes a health insurance carrier will allow you convert your policy. My wife was allowed to convert her group health insurance to a lower cost policy! If you can get a cheaper policy direct from the insurer, they may require you to waive your COBRA coverage. If you do sign up for COBRA, you may not be able to convert until the end of the COBRA period. The conversion policy may be different then the group health plan. They also might offer an individual policy, which also may not be the same policy.
Not every COBRA beneficiary must be offered the opportunity to convert from continuation coverage under the group plan to an individual policy. The right to convert to an individual health insurance policy applies only to those qualified beneficiaries who have exhausted their maximum COBRA coverage periods.
So participants who terminate COBRA coverage early are not eligible to convert to individual health insurance plan. This can occur is the premiums are not paid, the group health plan is canceled, a qualified beneficiary obtained other health insurance, like a new employer's health plan.
Although COBRA specifies certain periods of time that continued health coverage must be offered to qualified beneficiaries, COBRA does not prohibit plans from offering continuation health coverage that goes beyond the COBRA periods.
Some plans allow participants and beneficiaries to convert group health coverage to an individual policy. If this option is generally available from the plan, a qualified beneficiary who pays for COBRA coverage must be given the option of converting to an individual policy at the end of the COBRA continuation coverage period. The option must be given to enroll in a conversion health plan within 180 days before COBRA coverage ends.
The premium for a conversion policy may be more expensive than the premium of a group plan, and the conversion policy may provide a lower level of coverage. The conversion option, however, is not available if the beneficiary ends COBRA coverage before reaching the end of the maximum period of COBRA coverage.