Q: I will be 63 in October and I am retired. I currently have health coverage from my last employer under COBRA, which ends in March 2014. Under the new law, will COBRA still be offered until it expires in March, or will I have to sign up for insurance starting January 2014? My wife is 68 and already on Medicare. — Dennis from Valrico
A: You have choices.
COBRA insurance is the guarantee that certain former employees, retirees and spouses can temporarily keep their insurance after a job ends. The U.S. Department of Labor says that coverage is usually more expensive than it was while you were working, but it’s a cheaper option than buying health insurance on your own.
According to www.healthcare.gov, you can keep that COBRA insurance, or you can shop on the Healthcare Marketplace for a plan that starts Jan. 1. Once your COBRA insurance expires, you will need to buy new coverage, and the federally run exchange will let you to do so at that time.
It might be worth doing some price comparisons to your current plan when the Florida Marketplace opens on Oct. 1. Look at more than the monthly premiums you might pay; you’ll want to compare out-of-pocket costs such as the cost of doctor visits, prescriptions and overall deductibles.