I'm getting ready to write a $2,000 check and I have to confess that I am more than a little bitter. This will be the fourth one I've written this year for COBRA coverage which is “supposed to” be continuation of benefits after losing a job ( I say supposed to because you get dumped off a plan immediately and then have to go back and chase an insurance company for months to recover the cost of your healthcare expenses that incurred when you were in the black hole waiting for them to get your payment and turn your benefits back on. It is complete and utter crap.)
At the start of the year, we paid $6,000 in COBRA payments waiting for benefits at my new job to kick in. Since I lost my job in August, we are making one more $2,000 payment until our new benefits begin in October. We aren't making the payment because we actually used the insurance in September (we paid cash for all our prescriptions and cancelled all doctor's visits). We are making the payment so we have what they call in the insurance world as “continuous coverage” so when we get our new insurance they can't say we have preexisting conditions and they will cover us. We are paying for the right to have health coverage moving forward.
I've been very vocal in the past that I think we have major issues with our health care system and this is yet another example of why we need solutions. What if I hadn't been in the insurance industry to know about continuous coverage (most people aren't educated on those types of issues)? I'm sure there are thousands of people every year that lose jobs, can't afford the premiums and pay out of pocket for months not knowing that they've now affected their insurability in the future. And, guess when they find out? When they get the bill from the doctor for a service they thought would be covered (they have group coverage, right?) and the insurance company declines to pay. Crap.
I am lucky. I can pay the premium and I know how the rules work. But, there are lots of others who don't and make the fatal mistake I've illustrated above. Or, they can't afford to pay at all and they go without insurance for an extended period of time. We need health care reform. Badly. I am done ranting. For now.