Cobra is very expensive, is it worth the cost to Unemployed Families?
United States Citizens are Stressed Out and need Medical Now!
Are You Fired Up?
Cobra should be a serious part of healthcare reform
I think that President Obama and the healthcare reform panel needs to seriously address the problems that unemployed families have to face with Cobra. Our only option to continue with our medical insurance should we lose our employment is to pay a huge monthly fee to Cobra of $700.-$800. per month to keep our children and spouses covered with their medication and doctors during the very stressful time when we have to look for work and keep food on the table.
Healthcare is a large deduction from our paychecks as it is, but when that paycheck is no longer coming in regularly, the cost of healthcare is rediculous, and even if you are not using your insurance, the payment is still due. When you are out of work forget about dental or eye doctors, this is not included in the monthly payment.
In California we have two choices when selecting Cobra as back up, temporary insurance when out of work, COBRA or Cal-Cobra. You will get the same medical coverage as your employr provided without the dental or vision plans. If you had a HMO with a copay, you may be able to covert to an individual CONVERSION copayment or deductible plan which will not be as comprehensive in benefits as provided by your past employers group insurance plan, but it is a more affordable option and has no medical review required if there is no interruption of coverage. In other wods if you have money saved ahead so you can keep up the payments before your employer stops paying for your plan.
Before we go any further, I should give you some deffinitions of key terms so you have a better understanding of the Health-plan language...
1) Coinsurance: The percentage of charges you pay when you receive a covered service.
2) Copayment: The specific dollar amount you pay when you recive certain covered services or prescriptions. Copayments costs vary by the plan you sign up for and the services within that plan.
3) Deductible: The fixed amount you must pay in a calendar year before the insurance will cover certain services that same year.
4) Health Savings Account (HSA): This is a savings account using money from your paycheck or saving account set aside solely for healthcare expenses, the only catch is you must estimate as accurately as possible how much you will spend for each family member because any money left in the account at the end of the year is not returned to you.
5) Hospitalization Services: These include room and board, surgery, anesthesia, X-rays, lab tests, and drugs received in In-Patient settings.
6) Medical review: A process used to assess an applicants' current and past health information to determine eligibility for health care coverage.
7) Monthly rate/premium: The fixed amount that you'll pay every month to keep your insurance current.
8) Preventative care: Includes screening exams, routine physical exams, prenatal care, and vaccines(immunizations).
9) Subsidized plans: Select health cares plans that are supported finacially in part or in whole by the state or Federal Government, or even by the insurer.
Where is the Protection?
Involuntary Termination between the dates of Sept. '2012 and December 31, 2014
You may be eligible for a reduction in your monthly COBRA premiums under The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2013. To get answers to any questions not covered in this article, HUB, call 1-866/444-3272.
The President of the United States of America signed a Stimulus Package in 2013 which included a temporary COBRA premium reduction and additional enrollment opportunity for those who may have initially refused the COBRA coverage opportunity or accepted then discontinued payments.
However, If you opt in for the reduced monthly premium payments, you will be disqualified for the Health Coverage Tax Credit, which could be more valuable to you than the amount of the premium reduction. Also, certain higher income individuals may be required to pay back the amount of the benefit reduction payments if their new employment results in a higher income tax status that year if the worker is back to work.
If a resident of California cannot come up with the payments or COBRA when unemployed, there is the option of applyig for Medi-Cal, which is California's Medicaid program. You can get informatio for this program from the Departent of Health Care Services which is run by the State of CA, (916)552-9200, or on the web at www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal.
So in spite of attempts at revisions this year, the stress put on unemployed family members has not been reduced in any noticible way, health care and food being the most critical needs during this time of economical distress. We hope that further evaluations and considerations will be made very soon.
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Continuation Of Health Coverage when Unemployed
According to the United states Department of Labor: The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families, who lose their group health benefit, the right to conbtinue group health benefits for a limited period of time.
"Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102% of the plan." Which may still be less than the cost of individual medical insurance costs.
You can get an extension of benefits beyond the 18 months of temporary coverage for employees voluntarily or involuntarily unemployed, employees with a reduction in hours, divroce or legal separation from the insured, or death of the insured.
The extension granted is for 11 additional months but the cost will increase to 150% of the `cost of group insurance instead of 102% of the cost of your plan.
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