The COBRA termination letter

I received my COBRA termination notice in the mail.  I’ve been trying to calculate when my health insurance benefits will end but now I know I have two months before I become an uninsured American.   I know what it’s like to be uninsured and I’m not looking forward to life without medical insurance.

I became uninsured in 1993 when Richard lost his job.  The COBRA rate for State of New Jersey employees was $800 a month.  We didn’t have the money for the premiums so we didn’t get medical help when we needed it unless our doctor was willing to work out a payment plan with us. I remember the time when I was coughing up blood and begged Richard to take me to the emergency room.  We didn’t go to the hospital because we didn’t have insurance.

I was relieved when I got a job with benefits two years later.  That job ended in 2012 and I’ve been paying COBRA premiums ever since.

I have no medical problems and take no medication.  But I know it is important to have medical insurance at least for catastrophic illness or accidents.  Richard and Stephen benefited from having insurance when they were diagnosed with and treated for cancer.  I remember the scare we had when Stephen’s insurance company dropped him because of his change in employment status because we applied for retirement due to his illness.  He was in the hospital when the insurance gap occurred and it wasn’t easy to get him reinstated without – again the State of New Jersey COBRA premium – and reams of hospital reports to support his claim for State employee retirement.

I am reminded every day in the news about the possibility of buying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.  My preliminary research of the new program has shown that I might not be able to get insurance.  Even with the tax credit, I’d have a premium to pay and that’s not possible without income.  I don’t know when I’ll be employed again and don’t know if I will be offered health insurance.

I’m worried and I don’t know what to do about it.  My insurance runs out in the same month I will be required to enroll for medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  I’m hoping that I might qualify for Medicaid but that’s not certain.

Under the Affordable Care Act, some Americans will still be uninsured.  I’m afraid I might be one of them.

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10 Responses to The COBRA termination letter

  1. weggieboy says:

    I have a precondition so rare I had to explain it to the insurance company so they could over-charge me for health insurance that, coincidentally, did not cover the precondition that necessitates I have adequate health care!

    I’ve been in remission for 8 years now, but went for a year and three months without any coverage. Fortunately, I didn’t die because of it, but I definitely became aware of which politicians in my state do or don’t represent me in Washington and which insurance companies will never get business from me again.

    Good luck with your insurance issues. I’m on Medicare now, with a good Plan F to pick up the rest, but went from COBRA to 15 months’ without insurance. The stress was horrific.

    ACA is, I feel, on the right track, but you note one problem I don’t think politicians in this country have the will to address: What happens to people with no job AND a need for insurance? Let us die because we don’t have the money to buy the insurance, I guess, is the way to save money.

    Good luck and God bless!

    • Natasha says:

      I am glad that the Affordable Care Act will provide insurance for those with pre-existing conditions who previously could not obtain insurance. I’ve thought a lot about the insurance problem over the last few years as my husbands illnesses ran up astronomical medical bills that I would have been unable to pay after their deaths if they did not have health insurance. And I’m now in an age group where I should be thinking about my health care but am many years away from Medicare. I hope I can find a solution to this problem soon as I am worrying too much about it.

      • weggieboy says:

        My doctors warned me about stress and its relationship to flares of the disease I have. It’s all fine and good to talk about reducing stress, but quite another when one feels the culture in which one lives values human life so little, it allows millions to live without adequate health care or worse. I feel a rant coming on, so will back off!

      • Natasha says:

        Feel free to rant. I may have no health problems but I’ve made myself sick over worry about unemployment, insurance, etc. You’re right, it doesn’t seem that the people who can make a change really care about those who are trying to survive.

      • weggieboy says:

        I may just do something in my blog on that! I think I’ll call it “A modest proposal”, and outline how I’d like Senators and Congressmen to take a severe cut in pay, benefits, and self-importance through getting tossed out of their cushy do-nothing jobs. I think about that sort of thing now that my health insurance issues are covered. I prefer to keep my blog light, but there are times my two Persians and I need a break from cuteness.

      • Natasha says:

        I look forward to reading it once you’ve written it.

  2. I know how you feel Natasha. My whole life I’ve belonged to a construction union in NYC. There were many times my family lost their health insurance because I didn’t get enough work time in for the year. It was quite scary when that happened since we had kids. In PA we have state insurance but you can’t qualify for it if you are collecting unemployment insurance. Isn’t that nuts? I hope everything works out for you!

    • Natasha says:

      I think I’m more concerned about the lack of insurance now that I’m getting older. I don’t know if NJ has the same requirement for state insurance but it won’t matter because my unemployment benefits are ending soon. I don’t know if the state insurance plan provides coverage for single adults. I’m not sure if the Affordable Care Act will do all that is advertised but I’ll know soon enough, won’t I?

      • hoofin says:

        Chris Christie is expanding Medicaid in New Jersey, right? Therefore, if you have no income, you would be covered. If you have income between 100% and 400% of federal poverty level, you should be able to get premium credits toward a policy on the federal health insurance exchange. http://www.healthcare.gov

      • Natasha says:

        I am considering Medicaid but read an article yesterday that many doctors in NJ will not accept Medicaid patients because the reimbursement rate in NJ is lower than other states. The reality is that lower-income patients will a lower level of health care (and access) under the Affordable Care Act.

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