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COBRA or Obamacare?
Old 05-09-2017, 05:36 PM   #1
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COBRA or Obamacare?

Note, this is NOT a political thread; dealing here just with practicalities. I plan to retire quite soon at age 60, and face the usual question of optimizing our health insurance purchase. COBRA for me, wife, and 24 yr old son is around $1700. The WA state exchange plan rates look to be around $600 for wife and me, and $200 for our son. So, total around $1400. Not that different than COBRA.

Any opinions and ideas on considerations for this decision? I was thinking it might be wise to get onto an exchange plan so as to "grandfather" us in, rather that see what's available 18 months down the line. No one knows what will transpire in Washington; just looking for thoughts.
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Old 05-09-2017, 05:40 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by JeffInSeattle View Post
Note, this is NOT a political thread; dealing here just with practicalities. I plan to retire quite soon at age 60, and face the usual question of optimizing our health insurance purchase. COBRA for me, wife, and 24 yr old son is around $1700. The WA state exchange plan rates look to be around $600 for wife and me, and $200 for our son. So, total around $1400. Not that different than COBRA.

Any opinions and ideas on considerations for this decision? I was thinking it might be wise to get onto an exchange plan so as to "grandfather" us in, rather that see what's available 18 months down the line. No one knows what will transpire in Washington; just looking for thoughts.
Are you comparing apples to apples with the plans?

$200 x 18 = $3600 so it is not inconsequential.

Even if you stay with COBRA I don't know if 18 months will be long enough for the ACA/AHCA/whatever to fully materialize to allow you/us to make a coherent decision.
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Old 05-09-2017, 05:52 PM   #3
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We have dropped our health coverage and opted to selfpay..... As well, we joined Healthcare Ministries...... I did a lot of research and this seemed like the best solution..... After reading several different forums, it has been a win win for us...... Premiums for 2017 were $1450 per month with a $7150 deductible, no drug coverage...... We opted out and pay $300 per month, then another $50 per quarter ...... As you can see the savings are there.....

We were on my Cobra for 18 months, I still had to pay $950 Per month, that was three years ago, I wish I had known about CHM back then
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Old 05-09-2017, 05:53 PM   #4
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I would go Cobra for now and see how things shake out. You can always drop Cobra and go on ACA/ACHA sometime during the next 18 months.
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Old 05-09-2017, 05:58 PM   #5
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really check the plans.

Check the networks. ACA often has small networks just in your state. Cobra could be national.
deductibles/max out of pocket/ copays.
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Old 05-09-2017, 06:00 PM   #6
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Depends on the plan and your health. I usually compare plans two ways 1) assuming our more or less 'typical' health care needs and cost at full deductible and out of pocket limits for the plan. The difference is essentially the risk you're taking on. Compare that to the difference in premiums.

YMMV


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Old 05-09-2017, 06:24 PM   #7
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I would go Cobra for now and see how things shake out. You can always drop Cobra and go on ACA/ACHA sometime during the next 18 months.
Agreed. I went on Cobra when I retired in June 2015.
Just knowing that it was the exact same plan I had while I was working was worth it to me.
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Old 05-09-2017, 06:27 PM   #8
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I may be wrong, but I believe once you select COBRA, you can't just drop it to go on ACA except during the open enrollment period.


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COBRA or Obamacare?
Old 05-09-2017, 06:34 PM   #9
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COBRA or Obamacare?

I'm trying to decide the same thing. We are retiring in October and have a 21 year old son and are also in WA state. I'm leaning toward the ACA as the premium for us is $821 versus $1,308 for Cobra.
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Old 05-09-2017, 07:02 PM   #10
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I faced the same decision recently. I had the choice of COBRA, a plan from the ACA Exchange, privately-purchased insurance (which I never really considered), or to be added to DW's retired-employee plan. I was uneasy about the future of the ACA Exchange for multiple reasons, so I went COBRA since that was actually cheaper than adding me to DW's insurance.

So, I have up to 18 months to make a decision. According to https://www.healthcare.gov/unemployed/cobra-coverage/ I would qualify for a special enrollment period when COBRA runs out, or I can change my mind and go to an Exchange plan but only during ACA open enrollment.

I can switch to DW's plan during one of her open enrollment periods. As it happens, that falls just as my COBRA will be running out next year.
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Old 05-09-2017, 07:03 PM   #11
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I would carefully review the schedule of benefits for both. Our ACA policy had poor coverage and very high deductibles.
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Old 05-09-2017, 07:24 PM   #12
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I'd go with whichever one you like best. But you'll be off COBRA soon enough either way. I'd seriously consider jumping to ACA/whatever at the next open enrollment, just to avoid having to change outside open enrollment if ACA is replaced for 2018.

For us ACA was less expensive, especially if we stayed healthy. We skipped COBRA and whatever additional enrollment paperwork that might have involved. One less system to figure out.
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Old 05-09-2017, 07:38 PM   #13
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I went with COBRA for my first year even though it was quite a bit more per month because I have already almost hit my deductible for the year and figuring if I have any medical expenses it will end up being a better deal.
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Old 05-09-2017, 08:06 PM   #14
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ACA networks in my state are very limited, really to the point that it is almost impractical because of the distances one must travel to find drs who take the plans. it would only be a last resort for me just to maintain continuous coverage in case that still matters with whatever HC system is in place going fwd. So, i went COBRA for the 18 months as it was a better deal, slightly, for premiums/deductibles, than retiree coverage. Will switch to the more expensive retiree in July when COBRA runs out in order to keep dr/hospital network. Unless the ACA plans in WA are better, I would not even consider it, and do COBRA and then private ins if I could find it assuming you do not have retiree coverage available.
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Old 05-09-2017, 08:08 PM   #15
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I went with ACA because there was no other option. However, I have been very happy with it. I pay $220 a month after the subsidy for a Silver Plan. Happy with the insurance and the providers.
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Old 05-09-2017, 08:18 PM   #16
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Do you qualify for a subsidy That can sway the decision...


I know they say to check Drs and such, but I will tell you that looking them up is meaningless.....

When we had BCBS I signed up for a PCP that looked good... called to make an appt and found out she had moved more than a year earlier....

Our current plan has Drs listed that are not accepting their insurance... my DW is going to need a knee replacement and we are looking at getting a second opinion.... but the 5 Drs we have called that show up on the list that do knees do not accept this insurance... DW keeps yelling at me like it is my fault ... but, this seems to be common over a number of companies...
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Old 05-09-2017, 09:09 PM   #17
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We are doing COBRA for Aug-Dec this year to keep options open. That means, without having to move, we'll have at least one legally-compliant choice for 2018 (assuming DW's employer continues to cover spouses next year). If there are individual plans, compliant or not, that look better in December, we will change, as this is a very expensive, cruddy plan. But, it is better than nothing--I think?
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Old 05-09-2017, 09:26 PM   #18
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It's difficult for us to make good HC planning as so many times over the yrs, our providers have sent us statements saying "cost of procedure abnormally high" and we end up paying more than what plan calls for. We've tried to negotiate the cost of the service down with no success. What a horrible mess HC is!
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Old 05-09-2017, 09:38 PM   #19
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Take COBRA. You can then take your time evaluating what will happen at the next open enrollment for ACA. If you decline COBRA now, it's one way street.
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Old 05-09-2017, 09:41 PM   #20
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I would stick with COBRA as long as you can, especially since the cost difference vs ACA plan is small. As others have said, many docs avoid accepting the ACA insurance.
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