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Logistics of COBRA
Old 06-01-2016, 06:25 AM   #1
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Logistics of COBRA

I'm planning to FIRE this year and enroll in COBRA for the remainder of the year. We've earned too much in 2016 to qualify for subsidies. We live in Texas.

I have a question on the logistics. As part of my pre-FIRE jitters, I'm getting paranoid about the possibility of issues with payment not getting properly credited and losing insurance coverage.

For those who have done COBRA -- has your insurance company offered to let you pre-pay for the rest of the entire year like some auto insurance companies do? Has it been easy to get a receipt that proves that you've paid?

My husband may need rotator cuff surgery and if so, I really don't want any problems with proving we have insurance coverage over the period of his MRI, surgery and therapy.

The worry about issues with insurance transition to COBRA during same timeframe that my husband may need an expensive surgery has me a little freaked out about FIRE, so I welcome feedback from those who have gone on COBRA about their experience.

Thanks.
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Old 06-01-2016, 06:34 AM   #2
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currently utilizing COBRA for the DW and I.
So far it has been very easy and getting the receipt email as soon as payment is made.

Our plan is administered through ADP and Aetna is the health provider. I think they do allow prepayment for ever how many months you want to pay - but we pay it monthly.

Should not be a problem with your husbands pending surgery - the only advice I would have in regard to that is make triple sure all Dr.s' are in you plan and document everything they the doctors do.
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:06 AM   #3
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I did and and am still paying for cobra... it will end at the end of August. We pay directly to the outsource human resource company for the startup I worked for. They do not send receipts as dirt_dobber noted, so I emailed the questions after all payment to get a verification of receipt. It was also suggested that we either use a bill pay or tracked mailing (certified mail) as proof of when the payment was sent. We used bill pay. I sent the $ in early.
In January I paid for 7 months, so they should take advance payments within a given year. Prices and plans changes at the beginning of the year, so advance payments likely don't work in this case.
I believe you have 60 days to get all the forms in and the initial payment. If you are going to get it anyway, I would get it in early just to be prudent. If you're cobra will allow CC or ACH (mine did not), this makes it much easier.
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:12 AM   #4
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Can you get COBRA if you quit/retire? I thought you could only get COBRA if you were terminated.
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:19 AM   #5
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Can you get COBRA if you quit/retire? I thought you could only get COBRA if you were terminated.
Yes you can.
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:21 AM   #6
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COBRA is retroactive to the termination date. I did the free ride period, FIREd in end of Oct., free ride through Nov./Dec., ACA plan in January.
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:29 AM   #7
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I did it in 13. Never checked into prepayment, not to worry. Everything was smooth sailing
till a systems glitch said I had no coverage after a short hospital stay. It took a day to get resolved. Point is that insurance companies lose an add members seemingly at will. Check your statements and always have receipts. Call several days before DH'S expenses and verify. Best wishes.
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Old 06-01-2016, 09:02 AM   #8
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I'm sure it will be fine, but....

We had a terrible time getting our payments recorded between the outside COBRA service firm (whose name was on the checks we wrote) and the insurance company. I had cataract surgery scheduled and the hospital called and told I had no insurance coverage. The insurance company said I hadn't paid. The COBRA servicer said they had verified with the insurance company that I had paid. The insurance company said the servicer had not. Back and forth. It gives me a stomach ache just to think about it. The insurance company actually had its own COBRA servicing department but DH's megacorp chose to use this outside servicer instead. Of course it got resolved in the end but I have to wonder why it's so difficult.

The COBRA servicer then added a comment to the monthly bill that it could take 60 days for a payment to be processed. Hey, why not six months, ora year? We paid the monthly bill the day we received it.

I would definitely prepay but in my case I am not sure I would have trusted to servicer--it probably would have still done a month-to-month verification. Happiest day of my insurance life was starting Medicare, not that I expect that to always be smooth-sailing.
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Old 06-01-2016, 11:57 AM   #9
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Had the same problem as well. Bank billpay takes a few days to get to 3rd party COBRA administrator, who then takes two entire weeks to process and another week and a half to be processed by my insurance company. One month's payment got lost in the mail, forcing me to make an emergency payment at the online 3rd party administrator's website (and having to pay the "service fee" as well.

My way around all this going forward was to pay two months in advance. This way every month I make a payment I am actually a month in advance. If a billpay check gets lost, or anything else goes wrong, I have an extra month to fix things. Haven't had a problem since.
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Old 06-01-2016, 12:02 PM   #10
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COBRA went really smooth for me and saved me a ton of dough. I stayed on for the max (18 months) and then got my own policy at a significant increase in cost. Getting my own policy was more frustrating than getting COBRA.
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Old 06-01-2016, 12:27 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jim584672 View Post
COBRA is retroactive to the termination date. I did the free ride period, FIREd in end of Oct., free ride through Nov./Dec., ACA plan in January.
If the law says you have to have insurance for 12 months, did the two months you did not pay for insurance, and did not actually have any, matter?
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Old 06-01-2016, 01:19 PM   #12
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If the law says you have to have insurance for 12 months, did the two months you did not pay for insurance, and did not actually have any, matter?
No penalty for two months of no insurance. Three months would begin the penalty.
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Old 06-01-2016, 05:32 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by marko View Post
Can you get COBRA if you quit/retire? I thought you could only get COBRA if you were terminated.
I got cobra when I resigned from my last jerb. I was technically unemployed for about a month but I had another jerb lined up and needed the time off to move.
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Old 06-01-2016, 05:33 PM   #14
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COBRA went really smooth for me and saved me a ton of dough. I stayed on for the max (18 months) and then got my own policy at a significant increase in cost. Getting my own policy was more frustrating than getting COBRA.
I thought exchange coverage was WAY cheaper than cobra. Huh.
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Old 06-01-2016, 05:34 PM   #15
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COBRA is retroactive to the termination date. I did the free ride period, FIREd in end of Oct., free ride through Nov./Dec., ACA plan in January.
A lot of folks don't know that you can actually wait to get sick/etc before you have to pay anything under cobra.
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Old 06-01-2016, 05:39 PM   #16
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When I retired (quit) I told my employer that I want to continue by health coverage via COBRA. They send a form and you sign and return. Then you get billed by the insurance co and just send in the dough.

It was easy and automatic and cost 3/5ths what I pay now. I'm not eligible for subsidy.
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Thanks for all of the replies
Old 06-01-2016, 09:03 PM   #17
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Thanks for all of the replies

Thanks for the responses. It gives me a better idea what to expect. It makes me feel better that even the stories that had issues seem to have worked out eventually.
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