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What do I do if I can not pay my COBRA Insurance monthly premium?

Posted on: April 18th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Question KeyUnfortunately due to the current economic climate, not to mention recently losing a job, many people find themselves in a position that they may not be able to pay the full monthly premium under to continue their COBRA insurance health care.  Normally, under the current laws, if you do not pay the premium within the 30 day grace period, you will lose your COBRA insurance coverage and not be eligible to sign back up for it again.  However, there are some things you can do if you find yourself in this situation.

  1. Reach out to the health insurance provider: There is a chance that your health insurance provider under COBRA insurance will work with you to determine a payment schedule that you can keep up with.  Many companies are sympathetic to your situation and want to help you continue to keep your coverage.   It can not hurt to reach out so do not hesitate to reach out to find out your options.
  2. Consider Paying on Credit: It is extremely important to keep your health insurance, so you may want to consider paying your premium with a credit card.  You do not want to find yourself in a situation with major medical expenses and this can be a way to make sure this doesn’t happen while you seek out new employment and insurance.
  3. Consider COBRA Insurance Alternatives: Rather than just going without health insurance, you may be able to find a cheaper COBRA medical insurance alternative by exploring alternatives.  There are many different types of medical insurance options and many are significantly cheaper than COBRA insurance.


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.

What happens to COBRA Insurance if I move to another state or outside of my coverage area?

Posted on: April 16th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

FamilyMany people find themselves considering moving when they lose their job and are continuing their coverage under COBRA health insurance.  Whether or not you are able to continue to maintain your health insurance coverage under COBRA insurance laws is 100% dependent on your current health insurance plan under COBRA, which is the same as you had with your previous employer.

So what does that mean exactly?  It depends.  You will want to reach out to your health insurance provider and find out if the current policy you have extends outside of the area or state in which you live.  Some health insurance plans only work in the state or area in which you live, mostly HMOs, and some extend coverage all across the country.  If your plan is limited to doctors and hospitals in your immediate vicinity, likely your COBRA insurance coverage will not extend to another state.  However, if your insurance plan does work in other regions and states, it still will.  Reach out to your health insurance provider, explain your circumstances, and they will let you know what your options are under COBRA insurance.

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.

Maintaining Your Health Insurance After Divorce with COBRA Insurance

Posted on: April 13th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

People holding handsIf you are going through a divorce and are currently covered under your spouse’s insurance plan as a qualified beneficiary, you are eligible for COBRA insurance just like someone who lost or quit their job and lost health insurance coverage. Since you are getting divorced and no longer eligible under your spouse’s insurance plan, you will receive a COBRA insurance notification form from your spouse’s health insurance provider.  It is important that you make sure your spouse informs their company of this change.

Once this notification happens, you will have 60 days to decide if you will sign up to continue to receive health insurance under COBRA insurance laws.  That health insurance continuation coverage can last up to 18 months or until you qualify for another medical insurance plan. If you are employed, it is important to find out if you can enroll in your company’s insurance plan because it is very likely that it is cheaper.  Ask your employer how you can enroll and when you are able to do this.

Four More Common COBRA Health Insurance Problems and Solutions

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

Stethoscope and PenCOBRA Insurance can be a tricky process and you may run into problems and questions throughout your time enrolling or being covered under COBRA medical insurance continuation.  Here are three common problems and their solutions so you know what to do if you experience this (although hopefully you won’t).

  1. The insurance company says they never received your payments even though you paid them: First you should reach out to the health insurance provider and see if they can remedy the problem.  If they cannot, you should then contact the Department of Labor, who oversees COBRA laws, at (866) 444-EBSA begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (866) 444-EBSA end_of_the_skype_highlighting and inform them about what has occurred.  They will help you to investigate what has happened and find a remedy.
  2. Your doctor says that you do not have coverage even though you signed up for COBRA insurance: Call your health insurance company immediately to find out what is happening.  If you have just enrolled in COBRA insurance there likely could be a lapse in the processing of the paperwork.  If you have been signed up for COBRA insurance for a substantial time period, likely there is a kink in the system and your health insurance provider can quickly let your doctor know you are in fact insured for the visit.
  3. Your former employer signs up for a new health insurance plan but didn’t tell you: Your previous employer should have informed you that the switch was occurring.  Contact the health insurance contact at your place of employment to find out the details of the new plan.  You will be eligible for the open enrollment window just like anyone still employed within the company and able to receive the same benefits with the new plan.  It is important to know that there likely will be a change in your premium cost if this happens.
  4. You got a new job – yeah! But your health insurance doesn’t start for 3 months: Keep COBRA health insurance until your new job begins.  This will keep you and your family protected until the new plan kicks in and will also protect you from being excluded (under HIPAA) due to any pre-existing conditions.

Three Common COBRA Medical Insurance Problems and What To Do About It

Posted on: April 11th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Woman reading paperWe all wish that signing up for COBRA insurance was smooth sailing, but sometimes we encounter problems along the way.  Learn how to deal with three common COBRA Insurance problems if you happen to run into them.

  1. You never received your COBRA medical insurance enrollment package from your employer: Your former employer and health insurance provider have 30 days in which to notify you and provide you with an enrollment package.  If it has only been a couple of days, wait it out.  If a couple of weeks have passed, reach out to your employer and health insurance provider and assume the best.  Check with your former employer as well as your health insurance provider to make sure that they have your current mailing address and information.   If the 30 days have passed, immediately contact the Department of Labor.  You may have cause for litigation since it is required by law that they provide this enrollment form.
  2. Your former employer goes out of business and cancels their group health insurance plan: Unfortunately in this situation, under the current COBRA medical insurance law, you are no longer eligible to receive continued health insurance coverage with COBRA.  Begin to look for alternative medical insurance plans and explore all of your options.
  3. Your COBRA medical insurance premium increased dramatically but no one ever told you: Unfortunately you are subject to any increases in costs that any employer still working with the company would experience.  There are no measures in the COBRA insurance law that requires that your costs do not change in line with any other group health insurance cost increases.  It is common courtesy for them to inform you, but even if they do not you will have to pay the increased COBRA insurance premium or find alternative health insurance if you can not afford it.

Steps to Take When You Lose Your Job and Consider Signing Up For COBRA

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

Medical InvoiceLosing your job can be incredibly stressful, as can be the looming costs of signing up to continue health insurance coverage under COBRA insurance which can be incredibly expensive, running many families upwards of $1,000/month.  So what do you do if you lose your job and are getting ready to enroll in the costly COBRA insurance continuation plan?

  1. Reduce Costs: When you lose your job, one of the most important things to do whether or not you elect to sign up for COBRA insurance is to reduce costs.  Think about where you can cut back  – eating out less, shopping less, buying generic products, traveling less, reducing utility bills, and more – examine your budget closely and find ways to cut costs.  This will be important not only because you will have less income coming in but also because you will soon be facing an expensive COBRA insurance premium bill to keep your health insurance.
  2. Explore Other Options: COBRA insurance is not the only health insurance option out there.  There are many alternative health insurance plans that may offer less expensive health insurance plans.  You should consider individual health insurance plans, private family health insurance, catastrophic insurance, short term health insurance, and high deductible health insurance.  Explore each option carefully and compare it to COBRA.  Consider your age, health, and any pre-existing conditions or ongoing medical needs.
  3. Check out Governmental Insurance Programs: The state and federal government offer many insurance plans that can benefit adults, seniors, and children who are under a specific income level.  Check out both federal and state run insurance programs to find out who in your family can qualify.  In many states, you will find that your children can qualify for state run medical insurance plans that will dramatically cut your expenses.
  4. Consider a Spouse’s Insurance Plan: Have you thought about your spouse’s health insurance options?  You may have previously had your family covered under your plan because it was better or less expensive, but now it is time to look into your spouse’s options.  Explore the costs and enrollment time and requirements for your spouse’s insurance.  Likely it will be less expensive to add people to their plan than continue insurance under COBRA long term or find a new plan.
  5. File for Disability Immediately if it is an Option: If you are losing your job due to a disability, you should immediately file for Social Security and disability.  This will help you to get through tough times and many times help to cover insurance plans.  If you are not sure if you are eligible under Social Security or Disability law, check with the Department of Labor to learn more.

COBRA Insurance and the NFL – COBRA Insurance Benefits Employees in All Sectors

Posted on: April 9th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

COBRA Insurance and the NFL – COBRA Insurance Benefits Employees in All SectorsIn wake of the recent NFL lockout for many teams, many NFL players find themselves  in the same situation as many Americans, concerned about their own well being and the well being of their families, as they find themselves without a contract and on the verge of a stretch of unemployment. So what are these players doing, the same thing that many Americans do when they find themselves in the same situation.  Players on many teams, including the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans are signing up for COBRA insurance to keep themselves and their families protected until the end of the lockout.  Stevens, a player on the Titans recently said in an interview with the Tennessean said “”It’s definitely a risk and it stinks. Most of the guys have their Cobra insurance. We’re paying for our insurance. But it stinks if you get hurt. We’re preparing for the season, but the team has no liability towards us.”  So what can we learn from this?

We can learn the same thing these players are learning.  That in times of uncertainty, when we are unsure what our future employment situation holds, COBRA insurance is a great interim insurance option to keep yourself and your family protected.  COBRA insurance, although sometimes costly, ensures that we maintain coverage through uncertainty and protects us.  That is why the bill was passed by Ronald Reagan in 1985 and why for so many of us it continues to be an incredibly important piece of legislation.

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