Lessening the bite from COBRA

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COBRA — the health insurance that lets you stay on your company’s medical plan after a job loss — can have quite a financial bite. Do you have to feel its sting? I’m Doug Whiteman with your Bankrate.com Personal Finance Minute.

You have up to 60 days after you lose your coverage to decide whether to take advantage of COBRA, and another 45 days after that to pay the first premium. COBRA is expensive. You’re responsible for 100 percent of the insurance premium that the company paid. And, the average cost of employer-sponsored health plans in 2011 was more than $5,429 for singles and more than $15,000 for families, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The healthy and the young will likely find a cheaper individual health insurance policy on the open market. Others might tame COBRA’s cost by choosing a less expensive health plan offered by the old employer.

For more on lessening COBRA’s bite, visit Bankrate.com. I’m Doug Whiteman.