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What is Health Insurance Premium?

Posted on: October 27th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

MagnifierLately we have been getting a number of emails and questions about what exactly a health insurance premium is.  Understanding what is a health insurance premium is important for anyone considering COBRA health insurance or any health insurance.  Basically all a health insurance premium is, is how much the health insurance costs every month.

In many cases, the health insurance premium for someone who is employed is largely subsidized by their employer.  This means that their employer pays the majority of the health insurance cost.  For example, many employers subsidize up to 80% of the health insurance premium which means that the employer only pays 20% of the cost.

If you are considering COBRA insurance it is important to completely understanding what is a health insurance premium because you will be responsible for paying the entire thing.  To calculate the cost of your COBRA insurance premium, add together what you pay monthly with what your employer pays.  Then add a 2% administration fee.  This information is normally found on your pay stub and can also be found out by contacting your plan administrator.

COBRA Health Insurance Gross Misconduct

Posted on: October 26th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Question Gross MisconductMany people know that COBRA health insurance is an option if you are laid off from your job or quit your job, but what if you were fired?  Well in most cases that probably depends on what you were fired for.  Under the federal COBRA insurance laws, employees are entitled to COBRA insurance under the qualifying event if they lost their job for any reason that isn’t gross misconduct.  So what is gross misconduct.  According to the courts, gross misconduct is :  Acts of gross misconduct are intentional, wanton, willful, deliberate, reckless, or in deliberate indifference to an employer’s interest.  They do not have to be criminal acts and can actually happen in the workplace or away from the workplace.  Some examples from court cases that have involved gross misconduct and COBRA insurance are:

  • Hitting another employee on the job
  • Misappropriating funds
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Repeatedly not performing the job as instructed
  • Theft of any kind

With that said, according to the Department of Labor’s website, “Generally, it can be assumed that being fired for most ordinary reasons, such as excessive absences or generally poor performance, does not amount to “gross misconduct.” ”

If you are fired and your employer is not entitling you to COBRA insurance due to gross misconduct, you should receive a Notice of Unavailability of COBRA Coverage that explains why you are not eligible.  You will be able to appeal that notice if you do not agree with the terms that it lays out.

Health Insurance for the Unemployed

Posted on: October 24th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Stethoscope and PenNot having health insurance can not only be scary but extremely costly if you do end up getting sick.  However, millions of people go without health insurance everyday due to the high cost of having health insurance if you are unemployed.  If you are considering health insurance for the unemployed, here are four choices you may want to consider.

  1. Short Term Coverage:  Short term health insurance plans can be good temporary solutions for the unemployed.  They generally only work for a limited time period and only cover serious medical needs.   Most come with a deductible around $2500 and will not cover office visits or prescriptions.  They also usually do not cover any preexisting conditions.  However, the benefit is that they can cost at low as $35 monthly.
  2. Individual Health Insurance:  Individual health insurance is the health insurance that is most like typical coverage, but it comes at an extremely high price tag for the unemployed.  This can easily cost over $500 monthly if you want full insurance that covers doctor visits and prescriptions.
  3. COBRA Insurance:  If you have left your job within the last 2 months and meet the federal requirements, COBRA insurance may be a good option for you.  It will allow you to keep the same health benefits you had but you will have to pay the full cost.  This cost will be less than you would pay for similar coverage in most cases because you still get the group rate.
  4. No Health Insurance:  The final option is to keep you fingers crossed and not have any health insurance.  Although this is a very risky decisions, millions of people make it.  Due to the high costs, people go without health insurance and go to free and reduced cost clinics for care.

COBRA Insurance and Adding Dependents

Posted on: October 17th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Signing up for and enrolling in COBRA insurance allows you to keep the exact same health insurance plan you had with your employer at full cost.  Since the plan is the same, in most cases you can add a dependent, like a child, when there is a qualifying event.  So if you adopt a child, have a child, or even get married to someone with a child, those children can be added to your COBRA plan.  However, if you previously has a child and you didn’t include them on your health insurance plan it may be difficult to add them to COBRA insurance plans.  You will have to check with your health insurance provider to find out.

Adding dependents other than children is difficult with most plans with or without COBRA insurance.  Such dependents could be adults or other older relatives.  Since insurance costs are generally high for such individuals, adding them to COBRA insurance or any other plan is usually difficult and you must meet certain caregiver and income requirements.

COBRA Insurance and Open Enrollment

Posted on: October 14th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

People who are covered with COBRA insurance usually have major questions arise during open enrollment times with their health insurance plan.  However, since under COBRA insurance you are simply continuing the exact same plan, open enrollment will be the exact same as it was when you were employed.

That means that during open enrollment with COBRA health insurance you will be able to change your plan details, such as switching from a PPO to HMO to reduce costs, add new beneficiaries, and make any other changes you desire.  One important thing to consider during open enrollment is looking at ways you can reduce costs.  This may include downgrading your plan, increasing your deductible, dropping certain enrollees, dropping vision or dental, or other things that reduce the cost of your insurance.

COBRA Life Insurance

Posted on: October 12th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

MagnifierA constant question we receive in our inbox is whether or not COBRA insurance extends to life insurance policies.  Unfortunately, the federal COBRA insurance law does not extend to life insurance policies which means that you must sign up for your own life insurance policy after losing or quitting your job.  Having life insurance is important and ensure that your family will be protected if anything happens to you.

When you are looking for life insurance policies, you will want to consider cost, coverage, and plan benefits, just like you would with any insurance plan.  You also want to see how the plan will age with you and how benefits change with age.

COBRA Student Health Insurance

Posted on: October 10th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Keeping health insurance coverage while you are a student can be difficult, especially if you are over 26 years old and do not qualify to stay covered with your parent’s health insurance plan.  However, you do have options for health insurance while you are a student.

1.  Check for University Health Insurance Plans:  Many universities offer health insurance plans for students to use while they are attending the university.  Many times these plans are affordable because there are many students on the health plan.  Check with your university to learn about the plans and costs.

2.  COBRA Insurance with your Parent’s Plan:  Many students are now aware that they can sign up to continue their health insurance plan with COBRA for up to 36 months once they become ineligible for their parent’s plan.  With COBRA, you can keep that plan for up to 36 months, at the full cost of the premium.

3.  Short Term Insurance Coverage:  If you believe you will get a job with health insurance upon graduation, short term health insurance for the duration of your schooling, may be the most affordable option.  The coverage will be limited but will cover emergencies in most cases.

4.  Private Health Insurance Plan:  Your last option is to look for a health insurance plan from a private company.   Always get multiple quotes and compare lots of plans when doing this to make sure you get the best price for your money.

Can I get COBRA Insurance if I Get Divorced or Separated?

Posted on: October 7th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Woman reading paperMany people think that COBRA insurance is only for someone who recently lost or quit their job, however COBRA health insurance actually extends to a much larger group of people who lost their health insurance coverage for a myriad of reasons.  One of those reasons under the COBRA insurance laws is legal divorce or separation.

If you recently become divorced or separated, and your former partner works at a company with a qualifying plan, in most circumstances you will be eligible for COBRA insurance coverage.  Not only will you be eligible, in most cases, you will be able to continue your care for up to 36 months.

To sign up for COBRA insurance due to divorce or separation, contact your group health insurance plan and make sure to get a COBRA election form.  Then simply complete it and send it in within 60 days of the date on the form.  You will be responsible for paying the entire premium monthly to keep your health insurance coverage.

Free and Reduced Cost Health Insurance

Posted on: October 5th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Can’t afford COBRA insurance or a private insurance plan?  That doesn’t mean that you can no longer receive any medical care.  Here are some options for seeking out free and low cost health care.

1.  City and State Public Health Centers:  Many people are unaware that city and state public health centers in most states, offer either free of reduced cost health care.  The services are available in most cases for people who do not qualify for Medicare or other state health insurance programs and are free or work on a sliding scale.  This can include getting something checked when you are not feeling well, as well as STD checks and mental health check ups.  Sometimes these offices may also provide vision and other wellness care.

2.  Free Clinics:  Many major cities have free and low cost medical clinics that are funded by private donors.  These clinics, although often crowded, offer care to anyone and can be a good resource for anyone who needs care.  You can find a list of free clinics here.

3.  Planned Parenthood:  For women looking for healthcare related to their sexual or reproductive health, planned parenthood offers free and reduced cost services including check ups, STD screening, pregnancy tests, and bill control pills in many states.

4.  City and School Run Health Fairs:  Many cities and schools run health fairs on an annual basis where they offer free health related services including screening, vision tests, and more.  Many times you can find information about free and reduced cost health care at these fairs as well as have basic screening and check ups done.

COBRA Insurance and Disability

Posted on: October 3rd, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Stethoscope and PenWe have received lots of questions about how COBRA insurance and disability work together.  Basically there are a few key factors that are important to know when thinking about COBRA insurance and disability.  First, under HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), there is a possibility to extend COBRA insurance benefits for an additional 11 months if you become disabled.  However, this disability has to happen within the first 60 days of COBRA insurance coverage.  This will increase the total COBRA term length to 29 months. Additionally, under HIPAA, both you and anyone else covered on your COBRA health insurance plan can extend coverage for that 11 months.  That means your spouse, children, and any other dependents will also be able to stay on COBRA for 29 months.

If you believe you qualify under HIPAA for this COBRA insurance with disability extension, you should contact your plan administrator as soon as possible.  This must be no later than 30 days after the law no longer qualifies you as disabled.


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