COBRA, you suck (and so does our health care system)!

When I changed jobs in February I was prepared to go where no woman wants to go-into the wonderful world of COBRA to continue our health coverage. I knew the premium would be steep but we can’t go without health insurance and can’t qualify for any on our own. So, we’d have to bite the bullet and pay an astronomical premium to have the right to have quality health care for 90 days until my new insurance kicked in. No big deal, right? WRONG!

My old employers insurance dumped us right away. Wouldn’t have been a big deal except that Rosie got sick and had to go to the doctor (that’s how we found out we had no coverage). God bless the pediatrician for understanding that we were in the black hole between employment separation and when the COBRA paperwork arrives. They treated her and prescribed a $200 antibiotic (which of course, we can get reimbursed the difference between the co-pay and what we paid when our insurance kicks back in) and they’ve been patient waiting for us to give them the sign that they can file the claim. What they didn’t’ realize is that it may come in the form of smoke signal as it’s taking so long to get insured again.

An employer has 30 days to get you the paperwork. During that time, it would be easy for someone to spend their emergency fund (if they were smart enough to have one) if they were in a car accident or God forbid diagnosed with cancer. Lucky for us, nothing has, and the good news is our doctors understand our plight. But, you can’t negotiate with the pharmacist at Walgreens when you need a prescription. And, the real cost of many of my asthma drugs is outrageous. I’ve actually had to go off one of my meds as the pharmacy wouldn’t ship it without insurance company authorization, even if I paid the $4,000 out of pocket. Ridiculous!

I’ve ranted about health care before. We have a broken system in America. Many go uninsured because they can’t afford to pay for care and don’t have jobs that provide a group health plan. Many go under-insured because they buy all they can afford and have shoddy coverage as a result. As someone who is totally, uninsurable I’ve always resented being tied to jobs to have coverage. Our health care system is bullshit and it needs to change.

We are lucky that we have the resources to pay the $6,000 it’s going to cost to have three months of health insurance coverage to close the gap until my group plan for my new job begins in May. But, writing the check makes me feel ill and explaining to my child that we’re flat broke right now makes my stomach turn. But, I’d hate to be in a position with no coverage in place. Talk about something that could be financially devastating.

I called my old employer yesterday to find out how long it would be once they got my check until the insurance kicks back in because we need to get prescriptions filled and I didn’t rally care for their answer. Once they get the funds, they immediately flip the switch on their end, but she couldn’t give me a good answer on how long it might take United Health Care to reinstate it. That scared me a little bit. I send them a big check for the right to have coverage (and have to do so within 60 days, they send no additional premium notices and if we miss one by 31 days they immediately cancel. Sounds like they WANT you to miss one) and they can turn my insurance back on whenever it’s convenient for them? That’s crap.

I have a sinking feeling that by the time I have coverage again, two months may have elapsed. And, we’ll have paid for thousands of dollars of prescriptions (on top of that $6,100 premium) that we’ll now have to refile (which once again they can pay when they get around to it). That SUCKS!

About debcb

All Deb wanted to do was work, until she had Rosie. For the past decade, she's juggled a full-time career, high-profile volunteer work and mommyhood.

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