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Am I able to stay on my ex’s health insurance plan after we get divorced?

Posted on: June 11th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Doctor

Anyone going through a divorce knows just how tricky it can be to navigate the waters. Not only is there substantial emotional difficulty regarding divorce but on top of that is all the legal, financial, and healthcare decisions that emerge. One of the most common questions we here is, “Can I stay on my ex’s health insurance plan after divorce?” The answer to this question is actually Yes and No.

Let’s start with the Yes. If you ex was on a health insurance plan that covered at least 20 full time employees, then you likely can elect COBRA insurance and keep your ex spouses’ plan for up to 36 months in most cases. Divorce is considered a qualifying event under COBRA so you have the right to sign up. The tricky side of COBRA though is that you are required to pay the entire premium, which is usually between 50-90% higher than what you are used to.

Now onto the No. COBRA insurance is only a temporary solution to health insurance after divorce. Not only will it run out at some point, it is extremely expensive. Moreover if you develop a condition while on COBRA it may disqualify you from future health insurance policies. Your best bet is to get your own health insurance as soon as possible. This can be done through your employer if available. If not, look into private health insurance. It can be surprisingly affordable. You can begin looking for private health insurance by getting free quotes and comparing plans.

The High Price of COBRA Insurance and Preexisting Conditions

Posted on: April 26th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

No family ever predicts that a serious medical condition will hit their family, but sometimes it happens. Families suddenly find themselves facing decisions they never expected and many times facing health insurance bills they can’t fathom. Making this situation all the more complicated is that many times in the face of serious illness, people are forced to quit their job to care for their loved ones, and that’s when COBRA insurance comes into play. For some people COBRA insurance can be an incredible option in this situation, but for others, it can quickly become more expensive than they could ever imagine. To help understand this better, let’s look at two different families in similar situations, but apt to make very different decisions.

Our first family recently found out their son had cancer and will need almost around the clock care during his treatment. His mother is happy to provide that and preparing to quit her job in order to take care of her son. Her husband is self employed and does not have health insurance. Previously the entire family used her health insurance. Unfortunately, her company recently needed to cut costs and drastically changed their health insurance plan. The HMO has a deductible of $30,000 per family per year and the premiums have skyrocketed. While she was employed, her employer continued to cover 80% of the cost. After quitting her job and looking at her COBRA election form, she learns that health insurance for her family will cost over $7500 monthly due to the lackluster health insurance plan and her son’s condition. That is over $90,000 annually plus the $30,000 deductible which they will definitely use given her son’s condition. In all, her family will spend $120,000 this year on health insurance, a number they can’t afford.

Our second family also recently found out that their oldest daughter has a serious stomach condition and will need weekly medical care. She also will need constant care at home for at least the first 6 months. Facing the same decision, the family decides that they will stay at home to care for their daughter and use COBRA insurance coverage for the 18 months. Luckily for this family, the health insurance plan they are using is very good. Even with COBRA insurance they will spend $1500 monthly for their health insurance with no deductibles and minimum co-pays. Given their child’s preexisting condition, they know this is the best rate they can get.

So what can the first family do? It wasn’t there choice for the insurance plan to change and there is no way to afford $120,000 in medical care. Right now, they have a few options to cut their costs. First, they can consider only ensuring their son with COBRA and moving the rest of the family to an individual plan. This will cut some of the costs, but probably not drastically enough. Secondly, they can look to put their son on a pre-existing condition plan, or PCIP, and look for the lowest rates available. They will not be cheap but they will likely be less than COBRA insurance. Finally, they can explore government and state insurance plans and see what their options are. Depending on the state there may be options that can help cover the costs. Another option, finding part time work with health insurance. Starbucks for example offers health insurance to it’s part time employees.

Finding Health Insurance On Your Own

Posted on: March 19th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Finding-Health-InsuranceFor anyone who is out of work, self employed, employed without health insurance, or in need of health insurance for any other reason, there are ways to find affordable health insurance that will provide you with the coverage you need as well as the piece of mind you want. Find health insurance on your own is a very important step to take because none of us can predict when a medical emergency may strike so we always want to be prepared. If you need to find health insurance on your own, here are some options to consider.

1.  COBRA Insurance:  COBRA insurance is a solid option for anyone who previously had health insurance with their job and meets the COBRA insurance requirements.  Most people do find that they are eligible for COBRA insurance which lets you continue your previous health insurance from your employer.  What many people don’t realize is that COBRA insurance can also be used by spouses going through a divorce who were covered under their spouse’s plan, children who no longer qualify as dependents, and even retirees.  COBRA insurance usually lasts for 18 months but in some cases can be extended for 36 months.

2.  United States Uninsured Help Line:  In the United States, the nonprofit group Foundation for Health Coverage Education is dedicated to helping people find health insurance options and understand what is available to them.  Based on your age, gender, household income, and health needs they will help you understand what plans you should consider as well as if you are eligible for state health insurance plans.  You can call them at (800) 234-1317.

3.  Independent Agents:  Athough many people are nervous and intimidated to call a private agent, mostly because we are worried we can’t trust them, sometimes they are the best place to turn.  Although they usually make a commission when they sell you insurance, they are very knowledgeable about what is available, what you will qualify for, and what options you should consider.  Also remember that just because you meet with an insurance agent does not mean you have to sign up for health insurance with them.  We always recommend getting a free health insurance quote on your own first so you know what to ask and what to look for.

4.  Preexisting Condition Plans:  In 2010 healthcare reform legislation was passed that created preexisting condition plans for people with preexisting conditions.  In the past most people found that if they has a serious condition they had no health insurance options but this is no longer the case.  You must have been without health insurance for at least 6 months to qualify for this type of plan.

5.  Healthcare.gov:  Many people like to use government websites to start their health insurance search because they believe the information is accurate and unbiased, which it is mostly.  One such site for health insurance options is Healthcare.gov which will ask you to answer a series of questions and then provide you with health insurance options from private companies.  You can also do this through EHealthInsurance and start getting health insurance quotes now.

 

 

COBRA Insurance Cost Reduction

Posted on: March 14th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

reduce cobra insurance costsLosing or quitting a job is extremely stressful.  For most people money is tight and they are worried about their financial future.  And then they find out how much COBRA insurance costs and in many cases begin to panic.  Rightfully so.  COBRA insurance costs over $1000 monthly for most families and after losing a job this is an expense that most people simply can’t afford.  Luckily there are many other options out there that can help with COBRA insurance cost reduction.

Before we look at ways to reduce the cost of COBRA insurance, let’s first look at why COBRA insurance is so expensive.  In any workplace there are people are varying ages with varying degrees of health needs.  There likely are people who need constant medical care and may have ongoing, serious medical needs, and people who are generally healthy and hardly ever use their health insurance plan.  A group health insurance plan at an employer has to cover all people which drives the costs up.  Since the health insurance plan inevitably will cover people with preexisting conditions or at risk for expensive and serious health conditions, the health insurance plan is expensive.  If you are generally healthy, likely there are much more affordable options out there for you and your family.  And even if you are not generally healthy, there still may be ways to reduce the cost of COBRA insurance.

1.  Consider COBRA Insurance Alternatives to Save Up to 65%

Many people think that private health insurance plans are extremely expensive due to the news and all the coverage about the outrageous expense of health insurance.  However, for people who are in generally good health, health insurance plans can be affordable and are almost always much cheaper than COBRA insurance.  The easiest way to learn what other health insurance options are out there is to get a free quote that will provide you with multiple options from multiple companies at all price points.  Exploring these plans gives you an idea of how much a private health insurance plan would cost and what it would include.  Most people find that they can get almost identical coverage for about 65% less (or over $600 less per month) by choosing a COBRA insurance alternative.

2.  Choose COBRA ONLY for Family Members with Preexisting Conditions or Serious Health Needs

Many times if someone in your family has a preexisting or serious medical condition, you automatically think that COBRA insurance is your only option.   You are partially right.  In most cases, COBRA insurance will be the most cost effective health insurance plan for the person with the preexisting condition since they likely won’t qualify for other health insurance plans.  However, that doesn’t mean that the whole family needs to sign up for COBRA insurance.  You can choose to only have the person with the preexisting condition on COBRA and sign everyone else up for a less expensive health insurance plan.  This is possible whether or not the person with the preexisting health condition is the former employee or not.  It is possible to just keep a spouse or child on COBRA and move the rest of the family to a new plan.

 

COBRA Insurance Alternatives

Posted on: March 7th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Losing or quitting your job can be very stressful and on top of that, many people face making difficult decisions about health insurance. While the easiest option for many is to sign up for COBRA insurance if it is an option, upon deeper examination many people learn that COBRA insurance can be quite expensive and may in fact be out of reach for their family. Even if it is not out of reach, an average healthy family spends $8000 extra annually by choosing COBRA insurance. Understanding what other options are out there can help both individuals and families better understand the best choice for their health care and budgetary needs.

Option 1: Individual/Family Health Insurance Plan, Average Monthly Rate: $420
Individual health insurance plans, sometimes called family health insurance plans, are health insurance plans offered through major companies like Blue Cross and Kaiser, that are essentially the same as an employer provided health insurance plan. They are the most comprehensive plans on the market in most cases and can be surprisingly affordable for families and individuals, especially when there are no major health concerns. Many people wonder why these plans can be so much cheaper than COBRA and the reason is actually relatively simple. Under group health insurance plans at employers, the health insurance plan covers everyone employed, whether they are completely healthy, have major medical issues, or are at high risk for major medical health concerns. Due to this fact, group health insurance plans are more expensive because they cover both the healthy individual, who is relatively cheap to insure, and the not so healthy individuals, who are very expensive to insure. When you are relatively healthy, you can get a very good rate on health insurance because you are low risk to the insurance company. It is always worthwhile to get a quote for health insurance before choosing COBRA because many people find that they can save up to 65% monthly by choosing a private plan. You can get a quote below.

Option 2: Short Term or Catastrophic Insurance, Average Monthly Rate: $200
For people who know that they will be employed soon and have health insurance, or for people who only want minimal health insurance because they rarely go to the doctor, short term and catastrophic health insurance plans can be very inexpensive. These plans are normally minimal with high deductibles but they protect you in case anything major happens. Most people find these types of plans for under $200 monthly and sometimes as low as $75 if they are willing to have a high deductible.

Option 3: COBRA insurance, Average Monthly Rate: $1,084
Under COBRA insurance the average family pays around $1100 to keep the exact same coverage as they had with their employer. Many times for people with preexisting conditions or major medical needs, COBRA is the cheapest and best option, since health insurance is expensive and sometimes prohibitive for people with serious health needs. However, if you do not have serious health needs, another health insurance plan will likely be much more affordable and can still provide excellent coverage.

How to Find Health Insurance When COBRA Runs Out?

Posted on: September 22nd, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Nurse and PatientA reader recently wrote to us wondering what he should do when his COBRA insurance runs out.  Him and his wife have been on COBRA insurance for the last 17 months and have about 30 days to make a plan for when their insurance stops.  They are both in their fifties and they have a daughter for is 24 who is also on their health insurance plan with COBRA.

Many people find themselves in this situation and making a decision about what avenue to pursue can be a difficult one. The major sticking point for this family is whether or not anyone in their family has serious medical needs or a preexisting condition.  If so, a comprehensive private plan is probably the only way to go for those with preexisting conditions.  They will likely need to apply to multiple providers to find a health insurance plan who accepts them and that they can afford.

If no one in the family has a major medical need or preexisting condition, there are more options.  For a comprehensive plan, a private insurance provider will still be the way to go.  However, they could also consider short term, catastrophic, and indemnity plans that are much cheaper.  These plans however are very limited and often have very strict guidelines for what is covered.

Medicare and COBRA Insurance

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

Man writingMany people have lots of questions about COBRA insurance, specifically for their spouses and dependents, if they find themselves eligible for Medicare due to disability or other causes.  It is important to know what COBRA health insurance coverage your family will be able to maintain if you begin to qualify under Medicare and honestly it depends on your situation.

If the COBRA insurance that you are currently enrolled in is because of your previous employer and you become qualified for Medicare, this is considered a second qualifying event under the federal COBRA insurance law.  This means that you spouse and any dependents are now eligible for an additional 7 months of coverage under the COBRA medical insurance laws.

However, if you were a dependent or spouse, who is now qualified  for Medicare, the COBRA insurance continuation of health insurance will end at the length of the initial term and you will no longer be able to receive health insurance under COBRA.

Can I Continue to See Specialists with COBRA Insurance?

Posted on: April 15th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Nurse and PatientSince COBRA insurance is a continuation of your previous health insurance plan, under the COBRA insurance laws you will be able to continue to see the same doctors and specialists as you previously had at the same expense.  This means that any doctor that you were previously covered to see with your health insurance plan will still be covered.

But what if it is a new specialist?  That is fine as long as the new specialist would be covered under the medical insurance you have at your prior employer.  The plan continues exactly as it had before so the costs incurred are the same.  If you would have been charged under your previous plan, you will be charged under COBRA health insurance.  If you would have been covered, you still will.  Check to make sure the specialist is within your care network with your insurance provider and inquire with the insurance company to determine costs for anyone outside of the network.  The cost will be in line with your previous health insurance plan and their charges for outside of the network coverage.

COBRA Insurance and Pregnancy

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

DoctorLosing your job or having your spouse lose or quit your job while you are pregnant can be extremely stressful, however under the COBRA insurance laws, as long as you are eligible for COBRA insurance, you and your soon to be infant can still qualify to continue receiving health insurance under COBRA insurance laws.  The COBRA insurance law works in a way that any health insurance coverage you would have received while employed or covered under your spouse’s plan will still remain as long as you qualify and enroll in COBRA insurance.

However, you may be wondering what happens if you become pregnant while covered under COBRA insurance.  You don’t need to worry; you are still covered, as is your baby as long as it is within the 18 month window of your coverage.  If your coverage is going to expire under COBRA medical insurance during that time, you will need to seek out alternative insurance to protect you and your baby once the COBRA continuation insurance ends.  If you are concerned about the cost of COBRA insurance with the new expenses of a baby, you should explore alternative health insurance options as well as state and federally run children’s health insurance options.

COBRA Insurance and Pre-existing Conditions/HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

Posted on: April 6th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

COBRA Insurance and Pre-existing Conditions/HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)In 1996, Congress passed a bill called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA for short, that was passed to protect consumers in four ways.  First, under HIPAA, employers are limited in their ability to exclude health insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition.  Secondly, it provides added opportunities to sign up in a group medical insurance plan if you lose other health insurance coverage or experience particular life events.  Thirdly, under  HIPAA, protects employees, their spouses, and their dependents from discrimination from a health insurance policy due to pre-existing conditions, genetics, and previous claims.  Finally, HIPAA guarantees that certain individuals can renew and have access to medical insurance plans.    Essentially, HIPAA ensures that people with pre-existing health conditions can get health insurance.  So how does HIPAA work with COBRA insurance?  Basically there are five key things that you should know about HIPAA and COBRA insurance or in simpler terms, COBRA insurance and pre-existing conditions.

  • By electing and signing up for COBRA insurance coverage, you can avoid a significant break between medical insurance coverage which would make it more difficult to find a new insurer if you have a pre-existing condition.  For instance, if you know that you will have a 6 month lapse in medical insurance coverage, purchasing COBRA will cover you during that time.
  • COBRA medical insurance coverage will be counted under HIPAA as creditable coverage which will help you qualify in the future.  Creditable coverage allows you to offset pre-existing health conditions exclusion periods for you and your family.
  • Electing continued health insurance coverage under COBRA will allow you to bridge your coverage so that you remain covered during a waiting period or a preexisting condition exclusion period.
  • Your COBRA insurance coverage can be cut off if you have COBRA medical insurance and become covered under a new health insurance plan that is not subject to a pre-existing condition exclusion period.
  • When your COBRA medical insurance coverage ends, you will receive a special enrollment opportunity for you and your family for any new coverage for which you are eligible.  This is not true if you just stop paying the COBRA premiums.

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