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Hello new here and in trouble! Cobra question...
Old 10-14-2008, 09:24 PM   #1
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Hello new here and in trouble! Cobra question...

Hi everyone,
New to the site and glad to have found it! About me, I am 46 and retired
from sales due to disability. I worked for approx 26 years and left
last year as my condition got worse. My question or problem is that
today I got a letter canceling my Cobra insurance due to non-payment.
In shock, I checked my online receipts and confirmed that while I
did indeed log on and thought I made a payment, I did not look
closely and missed the payment still due. I know, my mistake with
no one else to blame! Does anyone here know if I will be able to
get back on? I will have to wait for tomorrow to contact my insurance
but any tips or opinions would be much appreciated!
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:21 AM   #2
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Hi Arty, and welcome to the forum.

I don't have any tips or opinions for you, but I do hope you'll let us know how it comes out.

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Old 10-15-2008, 09:51 AM   #3
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I can relate to your problem! I've had a bit of trouble myself with COBRA coverage and dealing with the company my old firm hired to manage their COBRA beneficiaries--especially when I tried to change to a different health care plan during the "open enrollment" period. Agh!

In your case, I believe you have a 30-day grace period from the payment due date, and the letter you received should have been mailed within that period, giving you a chance to make the payment before the grace period expires. If it were me, I'd contact the COBRA manager and arrange for the payment ASAP. If you are still within the grace period, I think (hope) you will be OK.

You might also want to do a Google search on "grace period for COBRA," which will turn up a lot of additional information.

Good luck!

-plsprius
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Old 10-15-2008, 10:15 AM   #4
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Hi:

I feel your pain because my wife is also on Cobra as well. I don't it is right for our government to put us through this kind of angonies. We badly need to reform our health care system.

Hard working american should be able change job or retire with a peace of mind by knowing that his or her health care is taken care of. We don't want to have to deal with all these rules and regulations especially when we're sick.
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Old 10-15-2008, 11:55 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies! I have called the plan admins and have been instructed to send an appeal letter along with details which I've done.
They say it could take up to 30 days for an answer so now it's out
of my hands as I await the outcome. I'll post the results here as
they happen.
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:02 PM   #6
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Hope it works out OK!

If it were me, and I was still in the 30 day grace period, I'd also send payment--in addition to the appeal. You can't be too careful with these COBRAs...
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Does anyone here know if I will be able to
get back on?
Several years ago I was responsible for running the COBRA program for a number of Fortune 500 firms. The grace period for mailing the monthly premium is 30 days (the initial premium has a 45 day grace period I believe). The employer is required to enforce this rule for all COBRA participants equally, or face a suit from anyone that does not receive a favor. This insures that all COBRA Plans treat all COBRA participants the same.

It is the COBRA participants responsibility to mail in the money in time. If it's late, the participants loses coverage as of the end of the previous month (when the last payment paid).

You can always appeal to the employer for a one-time break, but by granting you one they would technically violate the law as I understand it. (I am aware of a number of individual cases when the employer granted an individual such a break, knowing that it was in violation of the law.) SO...it does not hurt to give it a whirl...
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Old 10-15-2008, 11:09 PM   #8
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That's encouraging since my employer is willing to help me out
but says they can't do anything. I did not take this as not willing
to help but simply not familiar with this type of situation.
So what Can my employer do to help?

Thanks again for these helpful replies!
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Old 10-20-2008, 09:46 AM   #9
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I ran into a situation where I was not credited with a COBRA payment I made on behalf of my son. It was corrected but from then on I sent the payment certified mail with return receipt. $5 can sometimes buy peace of mind!
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
sent the payment certified mail with return receipt.
If I recall that COBRA law correctly, all that you needed to do was prove that you mailed the envelope, that included full payment, within the 30 day grace period. Even that step is not required. Interesting enough though, there is no requirement to prove that they received it. The post office will issue the mailing party a "certificate of mailing" which proved (in court) that you complied with the requirements of the law. The cost of the COM is much less than $1.

As a COBRA administrator, we recorded (and saved the envelope with cancellation as proof) of any payment that was received after the grace period as proof of when it was mailed. If full payment was mailed after the grace period, we could easily provide the COBRA participants proof that it was not mailed in a timely manner.
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Old 10-20-2008, 01:12 PM   #11
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Any chance of going back to work for a bit? Start the insurance. Quit the job again, and start Cobra again. You will want to review HIPAA to make sure that you don't have breaks in coverage that go too long.
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Success!
Old 11-03-2008, 01:41 AM   #12
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Success!

Hello Everyone, I thought I'd let you all know I was successful in
getting my COBRA coverage reinstated. The reason I think I got it
was my former employers help in tasking their insurance broker
with reinstating me. When I first started, my COBRA ADMIN did not
give me any info or indications besides stating that they made the
final ruling without outside help (as in my insurance, employer, etc)
I then called my insurance which suggested calling the State Insurance
Dept who in turn referred me to the U.S. Dept of Labor. It was here
I finally got solid answers and guidance. First I was told that the COBRA
administrators WILL listen to the employers and insurance as they
have a business relationship. And to write a letter asking for compassionate
relief, including the reason for my request or an Exception which is
the correct term.
I then contacted my former Employer, gave them the letter and asked
if they would go to bat for me which they did. I took one week from
that day and I got my notification via email at first. Suffice it to say
I quickly got my payments up to date and will be extremely careful
from now on.
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Old 11-03-2008, 07:56 AM   #13
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Very good news. I'll add this thread to the insurance FAQs in case someone else has this issue in the future.
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Old 11-03-2008, 03:51 PM   #14
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Nice going Arty.

This is also an excellent reason to stay on good terms with your ex employer. I'm sure that if you had left on other terms that you would not have received a break on this. Make no mistake about it, your ex employer has stuck his neck out for you and if another COBRA participant with a problem does not get a simular break (and is aware of the positive treatment that you received), the employer will be in court hoping that his ERISA attorney can get him out of trouble as cheaply as possible.
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