I had a pilot friend who was laid off by a major airline after 9/11. They paid for his family's health insurance for a year, then it went into COBRA. The policy under COBRA would have cost $1,500/month ($18,000/year "Gold Plated" Union negotiated policy). He went to his local independent insurance agent and bought insurance for his family for $500/month. It had a higher deductible, and didn't pay for everything (probably didn't cover fertility drugs, for example), but provided the coverage he and his family needed.
This is what is wrong with insurance. State mandates, and ridiculous coverages drive the cost through the roof. The first exposure many have to paying for insurance themselves is in a COBRA situation, and they freak at the cost of insurance, thinking all health insurance must be so expensive.
The COBRA subsidies passed by Congress are nothing more than corporate welfare to the insurance industry. The same insurers offer much lower priced policies.
There is only one reason to buy into COBRA: If you have a pre-existing condition which would otherwise prevent you from being able to buy insurance.
State mandates are part of it, but mostly the price is going up because we are moving away from health insurance to prepaid health care, i.e. $15 co-pays for a doctor’s visit no matter how much it actually costs.