Scared of losing insurance

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Sara14
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Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 4538
   Posted 12/31/2008 3:42 PM (GMT -6)   
I work at a small newspaper and today I learned that the big corporation that owns our paper is selling us. We are being bought by an independent, smaller company that owns about 5 weekly papers in very small towns in the area. After the sale is complete tonight at midnight our health insurance will be terminated. I can't believe they aren't giving us at least 30 days to keep our benefits, but apparently, they aren't. I don't know what (if any) benefits our new boss will offer us. I would think they'd give us something, but it probably won't be nearly as good as what I have now (which was exceptionally good insurance), since it is a much, much smaller company. I guess I'll meet my new boss on Friday and he'll tell us if he's offering us anything then. I quick ran to my pharmacy today and got a month of meds, so I'm set for a while as long as nothing happens.
 
I'm kind of scared.
 
The company selling us said they will be sending us COBRA forms within 10 business days, but I've heard that is really expensive...? Anyone have any advice/info. for me regarding any of this?
 
Thanks.
Diagnosed with UC March 2007; Asacol 4 tablets 3x/day; Rowasa; Canasa; Viactiv; Metamucil wafers; multivitamin; sublingual allergy drops


dakotagirl
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Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 3402
   Posted 12/31/2008 3:54 PM (GMT -6)   
When my husband switched jobs we had the option of COBRA coverage for the "in between" period. We didn't end up signing up for it because our in between time was less than the number of days that would cause me to have a pre-exising condition.

I hope I'm making sense - I feel like I'm in a fog today.

I also stocked up on meds before our insurance expired and the new insurance started.

COBRA coverage would be better than nothing. I know it's easier said than done, but don't freak out until you hear what your new boss has to say.

Oh and if your new insurance comes about and has life insurance available in a group plan - jump on it!!! They can't deny you for your UC during open enrollment :)

Hang in there!
Pan-colitis and GERD diagnosed May 2003
Osteopenia (hip and spine) diagnosed Feb 2006
Status:  Mild Flare
Asacol 12 per day,  Azathioprine 100mg, Aciphex, Forvia, and a probiotic
Remicade: 1st infusion 06/17/08:  Next infusion: 12/02/08
Last Prednisone dose:  7/15/08
 
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Sara14
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Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 4538
   Posted 12/31/2008 4:00 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi dakotagirl. Thanks for the response. Yes, you made sense. Do you remember how many days it would have been for you to have a pre-existing condition? Yeah, I am probably freaking out prematurely. I have to remind myself to be patient and wait and see what my new boss says. It's been an emotional day because all of this was a complete shock to me and all my co-workers and we're all sad my boss will have to leave.

How have you been doing lately?
Diagnosed with UC March 2007; Asacol 4 tablets 3x/day; Rowasa; Canasa; Viactiv; Metamucil wafers; multivitamin; sublingual allergy drops


unclebubba
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Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 510
   Posted 12/31/2008 4:15 PM (GMT -6)   
The way my insurance agent describes it... ( and I'm self emloyed... so I carry my own ins. ) Is that even one day without "continuing coverage" could allow them to call it a pre-existing condition. I would check with your ins agent. Even your car ins agent sells health coverage, and could answer your questions. My car ins agent... GRANGE.... offers a low cost plan, just for this istuation... goldstar.... Its low cost and you can't be on it longer than 6 months... but it keeps your "continuuing coverage" going..... just a thought. Check with you agents. car ins. Home Ins. They all sell it and pick the best "short term" coverage to get ya through. Then there can be NO pre-existing conditions. At least thats how my agents have described it to me.
 
38 yr old male, NE Ohio
 
diagnosed in aug 2008
30 mg predisone, 9 balsalazide, rowesa enema, 2 gemfibrozil, 1 norvasc, 1 metoprotol, 1 allopurinol, 2 probiotic, 2 aloe vera
gluten intolerance... attempting to live no/low gluten
 
**********
update: down to 25 mg pred a day as of 12/25/08


notsosicklygirl
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 16731
   Posted 12/31/2008 4:33 PM (GMT -6)   
COBRA is very expensive but I wouldn't pass it up with my current health situation. It is probably cheaper than private insurance with all of the high deductibles, co-pays and the rates they charge for people with pre-existing conditions. Don't stress, small companies sometimes have better insurance plans than larger companies. Maybe you will be pleasantly surprised. Depending on what state you're in, it may be required for the company to provide medical to fulltime employees.
Diagnosed with proctitis in March 2007 - Treated with Canasa 2x Daily
Diagnosed with UC December but had symptoms months ago - Treating with Asacol (feel hopeless)


Sara14
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 4538
   Posted 12/31/2008 5:55 PM (GMT -6)   
unclebubba - That would suck big time if one day without insurance would make me have a pre-existing condition, because I will definitely have that since it runs out at midnight...let's hope that's not the case for me. Thanks for the suggestions though.

I'm not going to get on COBRA right away b/c it takes them 10 business days to even send me the forms. So what about the wait in between that? Do you guys think that will be too long with a pre-existing condition? Thanks.
Diagnosed with UC March 2007; Asacol 4 tablets 3x/day; Rowasa; Canasa; Viactiv; Metamucil wafers; multivitamin; sublingual allergy drops


FitzyK23
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Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 12/31/2008 6:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Hey Sara - I can relieve your worries. Deep breath. During your time to elect COBRA you are not considered without coverage. You usually have 60 or 90 days to decide if you will take on the COBRA. If you get your new insurance before the time to elect COBRA runs out you will NOT have a pre-existing condition. If during that 60-90 days something happens and you do need your coverage you elect the COBRA and pay retroactively to the date that you initially lost your coverage. If by the end of the election period you do not have new insurance, then you can be considered pre-existing. So, I would suggest you wait until the end of your election period to see if you will have coverage. In that time you can be saving up and re-budgeting in case you have to COBRA (assume $300-$800/month). If at the end of the election period you don't have new insurance I would elect the COBRA - but you will have to pay from the date you lost the insurance.

So, say you find out you will have your new health insurance in 1 month. Then, do not pay up front for the COBRA but do not send anything back declining it. If you have something catastrophic come up, then say you elected it and pay the premium. It is the only time you can pay for insurance only if you need it.

Good luck! I know it is very stressful.
27 Year old married female law student (last year!!). Diagnosed w/ CD 4 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD. I am sort of lactose intollerant too but can handle anything cultured and do well w/ lactose pills and lactaid. For crohns I am currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day and hysociamine prn. I also have bad acid reflux and have been on PPI's since age 13. I have been through prilosec, prevacid, and nexium. Currently I am on Protonix in the morning and Zantac at night. I also take a birth control pill to allow some fun in my life.


Dr-A
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2105
   Posted 12/31/2008 7:16 PM (GMT -6)   
So what's the best thing to do? Wife lost job and our insurance, so we have 30 more days until we have to go with cobra or something else. I definately feel your stress.
Proctitis DX 1999, Pancolitis DX 2008
Lialda 1 day
Immuran
Golimumab study
Vitamin E Enemas as needed
Probiotis/GreenTea/VitD+Ca/SuperDHA


unclebubba
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 510
   Posted 12/31/2008 7:27 PM (GMT -6)   
I agree.. don't do anything till ya half to.... But at same time... for people in our situation.... who can't be without due to preexistingconditions and such.... then outside insurance is the answer. I have blue cross blue sheild? anthem...... it costs my company ( just for me ) 225 a month. Now it has has a big deductible... 2500. but it keeps me in continuing coverage incase of big surgerys. or major accidents. No such thing as pre existing cond con for me.... as long as I keep coverage.... <LOL. Least thatswhat my agents tell me....
 
38 yr old male, NE Ohio
 
diagnosed in aug 2008
30 mg predisone, 9 balsalazide, rowesa enema, 2 gemfibrozil, 1 norvasc, 1 metoprotol, 1 allopurinol, 2 probiotic, 2 aloe vera
gluten intolerance... attempting to live no/low gluten
 
**********
update: down to 25 mg pred a day as of 12/25/08


barbl
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 320
   Posted 12/31/2008 8:45 PM (GMT -6)   
I worked for Cigna, pre-existing is up to your new employer. The insurance companies don't dictate pre-existing. The companies do. I paid claims for companies through Cigna that never had pre-existing conditions. Some companies would not pay on pre-existing for up to 1 year after coverage started. What people don't understand is that when a company signs up with a large insurance company for coverage they can just about write their own contract. I had companies that paid 100% on everything (very rare) and companies that paid almost nothing sad
Dx'D in 1990. Remission 1991 - 1/2005
Both flares were in extremely stressful times in my life
Colonoscopy 10/2008 mild UC
*****Digestive Advantage IBS formula 4 a day, 1 Forvia, 2 Metamucil.         ????REMISSION!!!????


Meesh
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Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 619
   Posted 12/31/2008 9:19 PM (GMT -6)   
No matter how much it is don't pass up on the COBRA. With a pre-existing condition under no circumstances should you let yourself have a lapse in coverage. You can get new insurance that covers your UC ONLY if you don't have a lapse of more than, I believe, 45 or 60 days. Do whatever you have to do to purchase the COBRA. The cost will be what you were paying for your insurance PLUS your employers contributed amount and an administration fee, so yes, it will be more expensive than it was, but still far less than paying for your meds, needing to be hospitalized and not having insurance. NOT taking the COBRA while you figure out your other options can place you in bankruptcy if you get ill and have not been able to get coverage.

I don't want to make ou more nervous and upset, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure you KEEP YOUR COVERAGE.

Meesh
46 yr old female, dx'd UC April 27, 2006; mild arthritis in lower back, dx'd May 2008; Osteopenia dx'd 6/08 Finally achieved remission mid October 2008!!
12 Remicade infusions: 7/21/07; 8/18/07; 10/13/07; 12/15/97; 1/26/08; 3/8/08; 4/19/08; 5/24/08; 7/5/08; 8/15/08, 9/26/08; 11/08/08; 12/20/98; Current meds & supplements: Lialda, 4 tabs in the morning; Xanax as needed (rarely); Rowesa and/or Canasa; multivitamin w/folate; Culturelle; Fish oil capsules, calcium chews and/or Tums; Vitamin D; Past meds: Prednisone 4/06-4/08; Entocourt EC; Asacol; Colazal; Venofer (iron) injections Dec '07; Imuran (extremely bad reaction 2/07); Protonix; Lexipro


Sara14
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 4538
   Posted 12/31/2008 9:23 PM (GMT -6)   
FitzyK - Thank you very much! That definitely put my mind at ease.

Dr-A - I'm sorry to hear about your wife losing her job and insurance.

barbl - That's interesting to know. Thanks for the info. Hopefully, my company will pay for pre-existing conditions, otherwise I guess I will be looking for a new job. I was so lucky with my insurance before...

bubba - Yeah, if I need to I will look into private insurance or state insurance. Right now I pay about $150/mo. premium and my deductible was really low. I really can't afford anything more than that...I'm living paycheck to paycheck pretty much as it is, but I shouldn't complain because I am very thankful I still have a job.
Diagnosed with UC March 2007; Asacol 4 tablets 3x/day; Rowasa; Canasa; Viactiv; Metamucil wafers; multivitamin; sublingual allergy drops


Sara14
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 4538
   Posted 12/31/2008 9:25 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you Meesh.
Diagnosed with UC March 2007; Asacol 4 tablets 3x/day; Rowasa; Canasa; Viactiv; Metamucil wafers; multivitamin; sublingual allergy drops


Bennie
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Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 552
   Posted 12/31/2008 9:59 PM (GMT -6)   
My son just graduated from college so will be off my husband's insurance. His employer does not have group health insurance. Here in New York he can get insurance through HealthyNY. It is based on income. There are several companies that you can choose from (rates vary). They said he has 63 days from the time his present coverage ends to making sure the new one kicks in for his pre-existing condition (Crohns) to be covered. We started filling out the form but my husband's company said they would keep him on another few months. Gives us a little breathing room. I would think most states have something like this.

--Mom of bratcat (17 years old) and nonamejames (19 years old)--
Daughter bratcat was diagnosed with pancolitis October 2006
Flared Fall 2006, Fall 2007, Spring 2008
Asacol, Rowasa, hydrocortisone enemas, prednisone, 6-mp, Remicade
7/3/08-Step 1 j-pouch surgery and no more meds!
11/10/08-Step 2 reconnect!
 
Son nonamejames was diagnosed with Crohns in Spring 2008
Asacol, Pentasa, 6-mp


UC Dude
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 438
   Posted 12/31/2008 11:32 PM (GMT -6)   
barbl said...
I worked for Cigna, pre-existing is up to your new employer. The insurance companies don't dictate pre-existing. The companies do. I paid claims for companies through Cigna that never had pre-existing conditions. Some companies would not pay on pre-existing for up to 1 year after coverage started. What people don't understand is that when a company signs up with a large insurance company for coverage they can just about write their own contract. I had companies that paid 100% on everything (very rare) and companies that paid almost nothing [img]/community/emoticons/sad.gif[/img]


totally false. If you can prove previous/continuous coverage it is against federal law to have wait periods for prex conditions. Part of HIPPA regs if memory serves.

Wait to see what new employer offers, then consider cobra option. cobra cost = employer actual cost plus a 2% admin fee. It is "expensive" but truly reflects the benefits we recieve and would still be a lot less expensive than "self insuring" out of pocket.

If the new policy is weak, you can still keep your old policy through cobra for 18 months.

I think the maximum days you can have an uninsured gap for prex purposes is 63 days.

Good luck and DONT stress you have options. Perhaps the new employer will have better benefits?
 


mbx5
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 365
   Posted 1/1/2009 9:41 AM (GMT -6)   
I agree UC Dude... I am an employer and we do not dictate pre-existing conditions with our employees. We have a group plan and pre-existing conditions are non-existant.

I would have to agree with everyone that keeping the COBRA active would be the way to go. You basically pay whatever the company group rate is for yourself or family whichever you have, without the company matching. Some companies (not many any more) pay 100%, but I would imagine you are paying a portion of it out of each pay....with COBRA you basically pick up yours and the companies contributions. It is actually probably somewhat affordable compared to a single non-group rate insurance - which will involve pre-existing conditions. I may be wrong, but I think they did lighten up on pre-existing condition clauses recently - as long as you dont have a lapse in coverage.....Heh - I should know this stuff but we are a small business so my HR skills arent so polished.

When I started my company 5 years ago I went through this....switching from another company policy to a temporary policy (non group) that had pre-existing clauses until we were able to get a group plan for the corporation. Luckily I didnt have to test it. We now have Highmark PPO Blue with a $250 deductable...our individual and family rates are affordable and I feel extremely fortunate to have this coverage. We are too small of a policy to offer COBRA so in the event of company failure I have to worry about insurance again....and my wife is employed by my company as well....so all eggs in one basket....

Definitely check into the COBRA - you may find it is actually cheaper than another temp policy and will keep you covered until you find another alternative.
34 yr old male. UC for 14 years. Started left-sided, most recent scope shows pancolitis. 40mg pred (as of 12/16/08), 12 pills Asacol per day, 1mg Atavan per day (anxiety) when needed, Fish oil pills, Culturelle probiotics, Multivitamin. Recent Endonasal brain surgery to remove non-cancerous hormone producing tumor on pituitary gland (and I am still more afraid of my UC!!) "I poop in the woods because I can"


UC Dude
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 438
   Posted 1/1/2009 11:01 AM (GMT -6)   
http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq_consumer_hipaa.html

Lot's of official answers here. :)
 


Sara14
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 4538
   Posted 1/1/2009 11:31 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks everybody!
Diagnosed with UC March 2007; Asacol 4 tablets 3x/day; Rowasa; Canasa; Viactiv; Metamucil wafers; multivitamin; sublingual allergy drops


Joma
Regular Member


Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 222
   Posted 1/1/2009 12:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi there Sara

Just wanted to share my research with you. I am a Canadian living down here in the US and so I have taught myself a fair amount about your health insurance programs since my move (I must say, every day the state of you health care makes me want to move babck to Canada). I am also in a similar position to you in that I am pregnant and planning on leaving my job (and therefore group health insurance) when my baby is born. My husband's company does not provide insurance to its employees. So this is what I have found out:

1) DO NOT let go of COBRA. Under HIPPA you have 63 days to get coverage from another group plan in order to avoid a pre exsisting clause. However, if something should happen in the mean time, and your new job should fall through, you would be up _____ creek.

2) That being said, HIPPA only regulates group plans (ie. doesnt matter if you are within 63 days if you are applying for individual insurance). I very much doubt that you would get coverage in the individual market (ie. get individual coverage if for some reason your new employer does not offer group health insurace). For example, as I am leaving my job and my husband's company does not provide group health insurance, I have to find mine elsewhere. I have already recieved my "letter of denial" from Blue Cross, Blue Shield of New Mexcio - as I was expecting. Like I said, I VERY MUCH doubt you would find any company that would provide you with individual insurance with a UC med history.

3) In New Mexico there is a state funded "High Risk Insurance Pool". Some states have them and some do not. I am not sure where you live but If you go online you will be able to find out if your state has this type of health plan for those people who are denied in the individual market. Basically, high risk pools are for those people like us that are uninsurable (insurance is for the healthy you know!?!) and/or do not have health insurance offered through their emplyer (a group plan). In New Mexico I have to provide the high risk pool with a denial letter from another insurance company based in a health issue in order to qualify. Anyhow, that is another option for you just in case your new employer does not offer health insurance and you cant get it in the individual market. Heads up - apparently New Mexico has a great high risk pool, but some other states I have heard (those that even have a pool) have wait lists. You may want to look into this option, just in case, asap.

In the mean time, as other have stated, DO NOT LET GO of your Cobra. Once you have gone over those 63 days, you will be subject to whatever pre-exsisiting clause a new employer has in place in their group plan.

Hope this helps. Jo

jujub
Elite Member


Date Joined Mar 2003
Total Posts : 10407
   Posted 1/1/2009 12:52 PM (GMT -6)   

Sara, you have every right to be scared. Being uninsured is a disaster for us, and it's really hard to get private insurance. Even if we can get it, it's usually very expensive and doesn't cover much. Here is a web site that explains how to get insurance in Iowa which may be helpful. It's a PDF file, so you'll need to have Adobe Reader to download it.

http://covertheuninsured.org/stateguides/english/IA.pdf


Judy
 
Moderate to severe left-sided UC (21 cm) diagnosed 2001.
Avascular necrosis in both shoulders is my "forever" gift from Entocort.
Colazal,  Remicade, Nature's Way Primadophilus Reuteri. In remission since April, 2006.
"My life is an ongoing medical adventure"
 
Co-Moderator UC Forum
Please remember to consult your health care provider when making health-related decisions.


Sara14
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 4538
   Posted 1/1/2009 1:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks so much Jo and Judy for sharing your info. with me. I am reading the Iowa link right now and the link UC Dude posted. I will let you all know what my new boss tells me tomorrow regarding benefits.
Diagnosed with UC March 2007; Asacol 4 tablets 3x/day; Rowasa; Canasa; Viactiv; Metamucil wafers; multivitamin; sublingual allergy drops


Joma
Regular Member


Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 222
   Posted 1/1/2009 1:49 PM (GMT -6)   
I looked up high risk insurance for Iowa. Here is the link to the Iowa Comprehensive Health Association. It seems they were created by the Iowa State Legislature to provide individual insurance to those who are denied coverage in the individual market (Iowas answer to a high risk pool it looks like). Hopefully you wont need this type of info because your new employer will provide a group plan to you. But just in case...

http://www.hipiowa.com/

jo

FitzyK23
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 1/1/2009 2:31 PM (GMT -6)   
Sara - are you in Iowa? Keep in mind that every state has their own laws regarding pre-existing conditions. One state, I can't remember which one, has made pre-ex illegal for all policies, even individual ones. But that is the only state in the union that does that. Like others said, under Hippa if you go from one group plan to another group plan before your opportunity to elect COBRA expires then you will be all set. (Or if you elect cobra and then go to a group plan, same deal).

I am concerned about 1 thing though - my dad's company (a major US, publicly traded company) went bankrupt. They were not allowed to elect COBRA because without the company existing anymore there was no "group" to join. So, if your company was sold I would just make sure that the company still exists (like they didn't change names and incorporations) and that you will be allowed to Cobra if need be.
27 Year old married female law student (last year!!). Diagnosed w/ CD 4 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD. I am sort of lactose intollerant too but can handle anything cultured and do well w/ lactose pills and lactaid. For crohns I am currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day and hysociamine prn. I also have bad acid reflux and have been on PPI's since age 13. I have been through prilosec, prevacid, and nexium. Currently I am on Protonix in the morning and Zantac at night. I also take a birth control pill to allow some fun in my life.


Sara14
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 4538
   Posted 1/1/2009 3:02 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks, Jo. I looked at that site. I sure hope I don't need to do that, because it's extremely expensive, but it's good to know it exists.

Fitzy - Yes, I'm in Iowa. Our company still exists, but thank you for pointing that out to me.
Diagnosed with UC March 2007; Asacol 4 tablets 3x/day; Rowasa; Canasa; Viactiv; Metamucil wafers; multivitamin; sublingual allergy drops


Old Hat
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 5191
   Posted 1/1/2009 5:09 PM (GMT -6)   
Gads, Sara, I'm sorry to read that your company dropped this bombshell news at zero hour! It seems unethical, to say the least. I hope your new employer will offer health insurance, but, if worse comes to worst, go for the COBRA. One prospect you'd have to recoup self-payment of premiums would be itemized income tax deductions at the end of the year. I just read on the Obama Transition Team's Website (Health topics) where some average citizen responders to his proposals recommend that he seek legislation repealing the 7.5% of adjusted gross income that we have to use as a deductible to compute allowed medical expense deduction on Form 1040/Schedule A. It would definitely help middle-income salaried people like us to be able to declare exactly what we pay out for medical/dental care + insurance & get real tax relief in return. Good luck with your upcoming workplace discussion & please keep us posted! I'm also uneasy these days because I face a number of retirement-related health insurance changes in the near future. / Old Hat (nearly 30 yrs with left-sided UC ... [etc.])
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