In 1986, the federal government passed an important new law related to health insurance benefits, although even diehard Human Resource professionals might not be able to cite this law by its full name: the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.  Instead, virtually everyone now refers to this law by its acronym, COBRA, and recognizes it as the legislation that allows a laid-off worker to continue participating in their former employer’s group health insurance plan for up to 18 months (in most cases) after leaving the company.

While the initial intent of the bill was to ensure that unemployed workers could maintain their insurance at cheaper rates than they’d pay individually, however, the innovations of the insurance market in the last 25 years seem to have changed the game a bit.  Over the last few years, I’ve heard numerous reports from folks who have done some shopping around and have found better insurance deals for themselves, and their families, than what they were receiving from COBRA.  Here’s one such recent testimonial that was sent in:

“Matt, I just wanted to mention something I discovered yesterday while shopping for health insurance.  My COBRA runs out at the end of February and I needed a replacement.  I got directed to from my current insurer, United Health Care. The result is that I found a new policy that is costing me $200 less per month, with equal-better coverage, plus Rx benefit, so I’m actually saving about $300 each month in total, as opposed to what I was paying for COBRA.  I wish I’d known this much sooner!”

So for  those of you out there who have been through a recent layoff and who might currently be paying COBRA premiums, as the path of least resistance, it sounds like it would be a wise idea to do some poking around to see if you can shave some dollars off your rates.  And while I don’t have any particular insurance companies that I’d recommend you investigate, beyond the firm mentioned above, I’m sure a Google search on “health insurance in washington state” or something similar would give you a sense of your options, pretty quickly!