THE COBRA STRIKES

After a couple of weeks wondering do we or don’t we, I received a letter confirming that we would qualify for the COBRA subsidy.

This is where you can go ahead and move to the next blog in your feed because I’m going to share some information about this subsidy, and since most of you lucky bastards still either have jobs, or your spouses still have jobs or you are independently stinking-filthy rich and don’t have to worry about such trivial matters like “paychecks” and “health insurance coverage” or “shit-canning”.

I was fired in January, conveniently planned so that my first full pay period check in 2009 had been deposited, which was my way of accepting that all information for year was correct, and with the loss of my job that I had had for 9 years and 11 months, I had also lost the health insurance coverage, and any other benefits that come from a large employer, for me and my family.

At the time, the subsidy bill hadn’t been passed, so accepting COBRA benefits was not an option at $1,000 a month to continue coverage without worrying about pre-existing (specifically my asthma and XBoy’s ADHD) conditions being excluded through a private health plan. Unfortunately, at the time, independent insurance it was all we could afford so we made the appropriate steps to get signed up.

Words of warning here: if you have suddenly lost employer paid health insurance, DO NOT delay finding a replacement, whatever means necessary. After filling out stupid forms, and talking to reps on the phone to get details of our health issues, and general delays with reviews and more required signatures, we JUST got a letter from the independent insurance company that we were eligible for coverage effective at the beginning of May as they will not retro the effective dates of coverage. If this COBRA subsidy thing hadn’t happened, we would have been without coverage of any kind for 3 months, even though I was ball-rolling back in January.

It was the middle of February when the COBRA subsidy was passed by Obama. I contacted my former employer’s HR department as well as COBRA carrier for more information on qualifying and they were as useless as tits on a boar, as the saying goes. Actually, NO ONE seemed to know any details, since I was googling the hell out of it and finding nothing. The U.S. Government is great at passing shit before they have figured out how to actually make it work. Kind of like what they’ve done to Medicare.

The skinny on the subsidy is that if you lost your job involuntarily (you didn’t quit of your own accord) or you weren’t fired because of gross misconduct (peeing in the office coffee pot), you qualify for the 65% reduction to your COBRA premiums.

The sucky part is that the actual reduction in premiums didn’t become effective until February 17th, for anyone. What does that mean? If your employer requires the premium payment in monthly installments, and you have to pay a month in advance, you’ll be paying full premium until March 1st. In my case, that meant that I only had to pay February’s full $1,000 premium, and now for nine more months, I’ll only have to pay $350.

In theory.

Since my employer was being douchey about my eligibility and delaying this and delaying that, I have already had to pay three months in full premiums. $3,000 is hard to come up with when one of the family coffers contributors is suddenly making 75% of the annual wage, which is considerably more than 0% since I was lucky enough to find temp work quickly, but still. It sucks in a limpy, cold, stinky kind of way. THAT level of suck.

So if you lost your job in September? Full premium for you until at least February, March at the latest.

For us, we’ll be riding the coattails of the subsidy through 2009, but hello! It’s already June Eve! I’m making sure that everyone gets their check-ups done, prescriptions are refilled, and that I get the most out of my reduced premiums while I can.

Right now, that’s more important than ever.

You see, this week I also found out that the position with the law office has fallen through. I wasted three months of job hunting because I hung my hat on a “sure bet”, and any bet is a gamble. I gambled and lost and didn’t hedge my bets elsewhere. I’ve got that flutter of panic deep in my guts once again since the temp position is dwindling down to a handful of weeks and I’ve got nothing but more potential temp work to fall back on. I feel like that grasshopper in the fable that failed to prepare for the harsh winter, and I’m about to get my green guts shmooshed by the fickle foot of fate.

I have another, and thankfully much shorter, PSA about Flickr to follow very shortly.

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9 thoughts on “THE COBRA STRIKES”

  1. I’m sorry the law firm job didn’t pan out. You’ve landed on your feet so many times before, so keep pushing forward. It may seem a strage way to go, but take a break on the porch, take stock of your resources, and you may find some good options to consider.

  2. I had the same wrestling about the COBRA subsidy, only in my case my former employer contracts out their COBRA administration to another company, and that company took until a few weeks ago to figure out how they were handling the subsidy paperwork, by which point I’d already paid the full premium for March and April. They are crediting me for the overpayment for April, but they already sent my payment for March to my ex-employer, so now I have to fight with them to get refunded the difference. Argh.

    Hm, now I’m thinking I should seriously consider jumping back onto IF treatment this summer, before the subsidy runs out and I have to switch plans (since my current plan does cover IF).

  3. That just SUCKS. I’m sorry that your law firm job has not turned out… really really sorry. Hoping that something good happens on the job/insurance front soon. It’s just so unfair!!

  4. We had to pay those monsterous COBRA payments right after the triplets were born. Nothing like having what seems like an extra mortgage payment when you have absolutely ZERO income! So of course when my husband came home after the subsidy passed, he only had this extremely intelligent, pissy comment, “Well sure now that this is in place, I won’t get laid off again. Figures!” Umm yeah hon, I don’t think not getting laid off is a bad thing, moron!

    That sucks about the law firm job! Keeping my fingers crossed that something super falls in your lap soon.

    1. Didn’t the babies qualify for state aid due to their birth size? Nebraska babies qualify automatically for Medicaid for a year if they are born less than 3lbs (or it use to be).

      And uh, yeah. Not getting laid off is a benefit. The COBRA subsidy? Not so much of a “benefit”. Trust me.

  5. Yay for insurance coverage! I hope that you can now find a job so you don’t need your COBRA.

    Insurance is such a crazy industry. I suspect the insurance companies are all out to screw the common man, but then, so are the doctors, hospitals, and drug companies. Pitting them against each other is just a way for them to squish us all between them. Sigh. Maybe we can get some genetic cures/preventatives so we’ll only need medical care in emergencies (or for birth).

    1. I hate to admit this, but I actually had second thoughts about taking ZGirl in the urgent care when she was sick with every possible malady in February because I wasn’t sure if we’d end up qualifying. It’s scary to realize how many families have to go without decent medical now b/c they don’t have insurance of any kind, nor even the potential, due to high office visit costs.

      There are free clinics in most big cities, but here? Not so much. Even the PA who saw my daughter to confirm, yep, it’s ringworm, coded the visit as a Level 3 (there are 5, 5 being the highest in complexity) and neither he or the nurse even took her vitals on that visit!

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