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Has anyone had to deal with COBRA


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I received a letter today that I had reached my maximum limit for leave of absence. I have been off since the middle of Feburary. It stated that as of 5/12/04 my medical insurance will be terminated and I will elgible for COBRA and that a packet should be sent to me shortly. Well does this mean I know longer have medical insurance. I went to the doctor on the 14th and well I was unaware of the terminated insurance. AAAAAAAAAARG!!!!!!!!!! I have no clue how COBRA works or the cost, I do know I just paid an insurance premium a little over a week ago, so much for that. Has any of you guys just survived by no doctor visits. When ever your symptoms got bad you just lived thru them? I am so frustrated.

Paige

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Paige,

I totally understand what you're going through- my insurance terminated when I turned 22 (I was insured as a dependent through my parents). So I've been without it since December, because the cost to continue was astronomical because of my pre-existing condition. I was denied for insurance by more affordable companies and even through my college. I am in a stable relationship but since we're not married yet, my boyfriends insurance compnay was not able to insure me either. It's been really frustrating, but there are things you can do. First of all, COBRA is expensive but worth it if you can afford the premiums. I get my medications through my local free clinic, including Pro-Amatine which is a big help. My POTS doctor (although useless lately) has been treating me for free, and I go to the clinic for everyday health problems (i.e. annual checkups). It's not the best plan but it's worked so far, and when I know I have a big medical expense coming up I start saving ahead of time (have an appointment with a new POTS doc in June, so I have about half of what I need saved up for that visit). We put some oney into savings every month for unexpected medical expenses, and I can only hope that I will never have to use it :angry:

Anyhow, I know this is a frustrating problem, but it is workable. Keep us informed, I'm sure you'll get some good advice from the others who have helped me so much through all this mess.

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As long as you pay for the premiums, the Cobra coverage can go back to the day that you were terminated by your employer. As said above, it can cost lots of money to keep the coverage--in my case it was several hundred dollars a month, but was still cheaper than paying for all my scripts out of pocket, as well as doctor's visits.

Also, I think you can keep it for up to 36 mos? All the paperwork that comes to you will explain all of it to you. In addition, your former employer's human resources folks know all about it and can probably answer your questions.

Nina

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Sorry to here about your plight. I am a similar situation myself.

Cobra typically lasts from 18-36 months. I had COBRA with my last job and the premium jumped from $50 to $200 per month. I could not afford it at the time, and not even four months later I ended up with POTS. :angry:

My doctor did see me for a couple of visits, but since I haven't paid in 6 months I no longer have a doctor. I don't know what to do for doctors or scripts now. Maybe panhandling. :angry:

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don't even get me started. if you can afford the cobra it really is cheaper than the doctor and labs and meds. but if you can't hopefully there is a free clinic in your town, or if you have no income you should be able to get medical coupons. good luck and sorry to hear about your plight. morgan

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Cobra is simply a continuation of your present insurance. The only problem is that now you have to pay the entire premium instead of your employer picking up most of the cost as they did before. According to the ERISA laws you are entitled to 18 months of continuous coverage under your present plan and even after that ends - as long as you keep coverage of some kind with no breaks in coverage - you can't be penalized for a pre-existing condition. This is where the problem is for most of us - the NO BREAK IN COVERAGE part. You have 90 days after your last date of employment to make the COBRA payments and get them caught up. My LTD coverage kicked in and paid just in time for me to have the make-up payments to keep my coverage. But then when LTS decided to quit paying a few months later I lost my COBRA and had to move to s different state to get Medicaid. In some states, if you are eligible for Medicaid they will make your COBRA payments for you instead of giving you Medicaid, so you might want to check out applying for Medicaid. BTW, my Cobra payments were $544 a month, so they can be QUITE expensive!

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I went part-time after I recovered from POTS and my daughter was born. This meant I could still subscribe to my employer's health insurance (thank god since I couldn't even get accepted by any other), but I have to pay the full premium of $308 a month. (At least during the time of my illness which lasted for 11 months my employer kindly continued to cover me at 90% of the premium--I only paid 10%). So, anyway, now about 1/3 of my take home salary a month goes to health insurance. My daughter and husband are on a different program, but still expensive--about $300/month for the two of them! I pay for all of this, so, obviously, I have little disposable income left over after all the basic bills are paid.

Anyway, this is also how COBRA works--you are eligible for the same benefits, but pay the full premium. Unlike working part-time though, COBRA expires after a period of time.

I think this reflects the plight of millions of Americans who are spending a large percentage of income on health care insurance and other related costs. It is so frustrating though that we all pay so much for so little return, in too many cases.

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Does anyone know how long it should be before I recieve any information on COBRA. I haven't received the "packet" my ex employer said I would. I have a doctors appt. next week. What do I do?

Paige

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I believe that your employer has 14 days to send out the initial letter about COBRA. However you have 60 days from the date of termination of your coverage in which to sign up for cobra. I would guess the packet will come pretty soon, I think mine came within a week or so.

If you do plan to sign up, I'd just use the same insurance card at your doctor's appt. because as long as you sign up in that 60 day period it will be backdated so that you don't have a break in coverage. Does that make sense?

This is the official cobra site:

http://www.cobrainsurance.com/index.html

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Paige, I would not wait for anyone to contact you or inform you about Cobra. This is the time to take everything into your hands. Insurance is a tricky game and we can be penalized left and right if we don't keep up on it.

I quit a job after my first child was born. We were paying about $27 a month premium for insurance. Cobra would have been around $600 for family coverage. We opted for self-employment insurance. It was around $200 per month. This was only for hospital type coverage and did not include doctor's appointments or maternity. You also have to check out if a self-employment/self-insurance type coverage would accept your POTS pre-existing condition.

You will have to take all of that into consideration and weigh which one would be more cost effective. I know I definately only went to the doctor when I was seriously ill and I was not on meds at that time.

Finally, you might check with your local hospital. You may be able to qualify for a bill reduction based on your income. This is a pain because you have to go down and file for wellfare....be denied from wellfare...and then take the denial letter to apply to the hospital. Unfortunately we were caught in the middle and did not qualify for any assistance....so I went back to work.

And you wonder why our nation is shouting out healthcare issues!

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