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Cobra thru November 2020, and then how to proceed?
Old 11-10-2019, 05:52 PM   #1
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Cobra thru November 2020, and then how to proceed?

Hi everyone. My Cobra runs out next year 2020 at the end of November when I will be forced on to the ACA marketplace. That will leave me uncovered for the Month of December 2020 since Insurance thru ACA won't begin until January 1st 2021. What makes the most sense to transition seamlessly?

Can I trigger a qualifying event any time prior to November 2020 by cancelling Cobra? It seems crazy to buy a policy in November for the month of December in 2020 and then also buy coverage for 2021 since I'll then be in the open enrollment period for 2021. I can see that causing confusion with the carrier? It's confusing just typing it.

Would I be better off canceling Cobra now and going on the marketplace during the current open enrollment period which would give me coverage all thru 2020 with minimal hassle. The premiums are only about $50 apart with somewhat comparable coverage in HMO plans. I could even keep my doctor and hospitals the same. The Cobra plan does have better hospital and emergency room coverage but I'm in generally good health and hope not to use either in the coming year. How would you do it?
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Old 11-10-2019, 05:57 PM   #2
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The end of COBRA is a qualifying event which will let you buy ACA insurance for December 2020. Then you can buy an ACA policy for 2021.

We kept COBRA the full 18 months because it was a nationwide PPO plan and the deductible was 1/10 the size of the ACA deductibles. The COBRA premium was also $200 less per month than the cheapest ACA premium.
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Old 11-10-2019, 06:01 PM   #3
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You can and should buy coverage for december via the "qualifying change" that occurs when your Cobra expires. It's really no more work than you'll do when you sign up for 2021, just you'll be doing it twice.

You cannot dump cobra early, and then sign up for the ACA - that is not a qualifying change. Only if it runs out.

I would personally keep cobra as long as I can, especially if the cost is reasonable. The premiums aren't the half of it with the ACA, as most plans come with a higher deductible than you probably have with cobra, but it of course depends on your area.
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Old 11-10-2019, 07:19 PM   #4
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Just for clarification, can I dump Cobra during 2019 open enrollment, just because it's open enrollment but then not after the open enrollment period?

I agree the deductibles are much better with Cobra and it's still $50 cheaper, just seemed hectic buying two policies next year both in November. Does Cobra ever offer the option to extend year to year?
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Old 11-10-2019, 07:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratface View Post
Just for clarification, can I dump Cobra during 2019 open enrollment, just because it's open enrollment but then not after the open enrollment period?

I agree the deductibles are much better with Cobra and it's still $50 cheaper, just seemed hectic buying two policies next year both in November. Does Cobra ever offer the option to extend year to year?
You can dump during open enrollment - anything goes from Nov 1 thru the end of the period, usually mid-dec.

You cannot continue cobra past 18 months except in CA, which has a 36 month cali-cobra thing. Not aware of other states. (there is also an exception for 36 months if the spouse goes on with you and go you on medicare, but I don't know all the specs and I don't think that applies to you).

It's really not hectic to enroll - and if it is at all, then doing it twice isn't going to be that much worse than doing it once. I just re-upped for next year, took me less than 10 mins.
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Old 11-10-2019, 08:10 PM   #6
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Also note that stopping COBRA before it runs out and outside of open enrollment does not qualify for a special enrollment period. It’s either open enrollment or COBRA running out.
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Old 11-11-2019, 08:54 AM   #7
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My Cobra was so good I took it to the bitter end. Then open market insurance for Nov and Dec. All was well until 15 days into my insurance they announced new rates for the following year and premium went up 25%. Big bite to chew but that's the cost of RE
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Old 11-11-2019, 09:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerides View Post
You can dump during open enrollment - anything goes from Nov 1 thru the end of the period, usually mid-dec.

You cannot continue cobra past 18 months except in CA, which has a 36 month cali-cobra thing. Not aware of other states. (there is also an exception for 36 months if the spouse goes on with you and go you on medicare, but I don't know all the specs and I don't think that applies to you).

It's really not hectic to enroll - and if it is at all, then doing it twice isn't going to be that much worse than doing it once. I just re-upped for next year, took me less than 10 mins.
We may have gotten bad information but we were told YES we could dump COBRA but it would make you ineligible for any ACA credit as they deemed it as HAVING a qualified plan which you chose to give up. Once the COBRA 18 months was up, then you could get an ACA credit again.
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Old 11-11-2019, 09:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bir48die View Post
My Cobra was so good I took it to the bitter end. Then open market insurance for Nov and Dec. All was well until 15 days into my insurance they announced new rates for the following year and premium went up 25%. Big bite to chew but that's the cost of RE
I did the same with my COBRA. What amazed me about the "Affordable Care" Act was that the list price for similar coverage in the Marketplace was ~$1000 more per month than COBRA for my wife and me. Thank God for the subsidies, which made it affordable for me (but not the poor taxpayers).
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Old 11-11-2019, 10:02 AM   #10
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I had a rude awakening when my Cobra June 2016 - Dec 2017 ended. I had a Platinum level coverage and got 6 months of paid Cobra and had to pay $650 month to continue coverage starting Jan 2017.
My first Jan 2018 ACA plan was based on my 2017 very high income (sold some stock), so I did not qualify for subsidy. I had to settle for a 2018 Bronze plan for $650 month single coverage that covered almost nothing. In June 2018 I was able to go back and prove my income to date was minimal, and then was charged $2.60 month for the remaining year. In 2019, I elected a Gold ACA plan, where I paid $260 month and received a big subsidy.

Yes, the ACA plans are more expensive than Cobra! Thankfully ACA qualification is not based on saved assets; but income. I had modest investment return income and had to do a Roth IRA conversion in order to meet the minimum income required for a subsidy.
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Old 11-11-2019, 11:06 AM   #11
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I am going through this right now; COBRA ends this month for wife and I. I have to go on ACA insurance because I have to have a HDHP for all of 2019 (testing period) or I get nailed on my taxes (tax penalty for HSA deduction). ACA HDHP is $884 for one month, one person! Wife is going on state retirement insurance for the month of December. The biggest concern is; new insurance, brand new deductible, new OOP limit. Praying we have a good, healthy month.
Come January 1, we are both going to be on the state retirement insurance.
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Thanks for easing the tension
Old 11-11-2019, 12:49 PM   #12
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Thanks for easing the tension

Health insurance sure has become stressful. I'm 61 this month and DW just turned 60. No subsidies because of a pension. Never thought I would be in a hurry to reach 65! It is what it is I suppose. I'm grateful to at least have a marketplace to buy it. DW insures thru a local school system but they don't allow spouses, only dependent children. I do not relish looking for work again just for insurance. I empathize with those going thru the same scenario and take some comfort in not being alone.

It seems the most prudent plan is to keep COBRA then till it expires and just buy a one month policy in November for 2020. Always appreciate the sage wisdom here!
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