General Question

NoCatharsis's avatar

After losing my job, do I continue coverage with COBRA or go with an individual plan?

Asked by NoCatharsis (207points) June 23rd, 2010

I lost my job on June 9th. The COBRA premium subsidy program extended by the gov’t would have qualified me for a $209/month premium if I had been laid off by May 31st.

However, since I was 9 days too late to lose my job, I am now liable for $600/month to continue coverage. My coverage was good, but I don’t think it was THAT good…

So I started checking out individual plans on and found a decent plan for about $100/month with no deductible and 50% coinsurance. I have an ongoing medical condition that requires frequent check-ups (every 1–4 months depending on the doctor).

I am actively looking for employment and ideally will have a job with insurance once again soon enough. With that in mind, I think I should choose a low deductible plan.

There are just so many variables in this situation though. Is there an easier way to decide which option would be the cheapest but best fit considering my previous health insurance usage?

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13 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Before you change, check to make sure the new insurance will cover the preexisting condition. If it does, I would go with the cheaper option.

Jeruba's avatar

As long as you don’t risk paying out more in deductible for ongoing care or for a single incident than the higher premium would have cost you.

Your age group might be a factor to consider as well. And how good your chances are of finding a new job quickly.

mrrich724's avatar

The reason Cobra is such a good deal is because that even with having to pay your portion and your employer’s portion of the deal, it is STILL CHEAPER than going on your own plan due to the deals that companies get by buying in volume.

So if that deal you are getting is so cheap that it’s cheaper than going with cobra it may or may not be too good to be true.

It’s going to take work, but just make sure that if you go cheaper that you get the coverage you need!

marinelife's avatar

Right now the Federal government is picking up 65% of COBRA premiums for the first few months.

Chances are your work plan is a better plan than an individual plan you could afford.

Jeruba's avatar

Not for everybody, @marinelife. Not for me, for instance.

marinelife's avatar

@Jeruba You make a good point. It is best to check the two possibilities out before deciding.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

COBRA coverage is the same as you were getting from your job. It’s typically better than a plan you can buy individually, as there are no gotchas in the fine print.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

COBRA would be great if you could afford it, but most unemployed folks will never have that luxury. Just exactly how is anyone supposed to afford the outrageous premiums when they’ve just lost their only income? Unemployment isn’t enough to pay for it and any savings will usually go toward the basics like food, shelter and job-search.

NoCatharsis's avatar

@marinelife Yes the federal government was picking up 65% of the bill for people who lost their jobs before May 31, 2010. I have the worst of both worlds because I lost my job, but I lost it on June 9 – just a little too late to qualify for the government subsidy.

Wow, my company really screwed me here…

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

With your preexisting conditions, you will likely do much better with your Cobra coverage. The apparent bargain premiums may sound much better than they will actually be when you start making repeated claims every month.

marinelife's avatar

@NoCatharsis That is horrible!

NoCatharsis's avatar

In summation, I have now talked to several insurance companies about individual plans. None of them will cover my pre-existing conditions, however that does not bar me from coverage altogether.

After running the numbers, it appears I can get a low-cost plan for catastrophic events, and then just pay out of pocket for doctor visits and prescriptions. This option would keep me covered on unforeseeable accidents, allow me to continue coverage on future conditions, and I would still be saving several hundreds per month by avoiding COBRA.

I can’t say I was quite as emphatic about the healthcare crisis and all of the political issues involved when this came to the forefront of the news last year. However, now that it has become a serious issue that I’m dealing with firsthand, I see the entire argument in a different light.

I hope at least one conservative out there has lost their job, as I have, in this down economy, and they now experience the hardship of surviving in the US as it is now. I don’t mean to take a liberal bias on this, but I feel for the folks out there with less than me who have lost their jobs and become victim to common, easily treatable illnesses that bankrupt them and destroy their chance at climbing out of the credit hole.

Hell I’d even be willing to join the military right now, as I’ve tried in the past, but one of my pre-existing conditions (asthma) bars me from ever applying. I can’t even risk my health for the sake of my healthcare. What an anticlimactic ending this could become.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Write your Congresspeople and Senators. Tell them this. Maybe if enough people do this, they’ll start to get it.

Hey, one can always hope…

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