Posted by: Admin | January 13, 2010

The Cobra Strikes

I hate Cobra benefits with a passion.  There I said it.

And, the more exposure I have to them, the more I’m beginning to truly think about them as snakelike…. They sink their teeth into you and you die a slow painful death.

They are absurdly expensive and, in my experience, pretty incompetent (at least the company that manages mine is…).

When I first lost my job, I went on Cobra rather than switching directly to my husband’s company, my (silly) logic was, that I’d find a job quickly and rather than start health insurance with his company, and have to change a month or so later, I’d just switch to cobra.  (Hubby & I each had our own medical benefits from our individual companies. We were however both on my dental benefits as my company’s plan was better).

Let me give you an overview of the last 6 months: 

July – I get my first notification from them and it shows that I’m covered for medical & dental benefits for JUST myself (WHAT?  My dental plan has always been for 2 people)

Mid-July – After numerous phone calls to them, I get hubby added BACK onto my plan

August – I’m getting new bills saying I owe them back payments from July for hubby’s dental.  The only thing is… my old employer covered my full cobra payment for my first month of my unemployment (Uhm… no, I don’t owe you any money!)

Mid-August – I’ve had something like 3 conversations, with 3 different people trying to “audit” my account so that my monthly payments are indeed correct & paid in full

September – I think everything is finally fixed but, I realize that I was insane to think I’d have a job quickly so I call to cancel my medical benefits (I’m finally going onto hubby’s work plan) BUT, I elect to continue my cobra dental benefits for both hubby & myself…. I ask for this to go into effect October 1st.

Mid-Oct – I receive a notification confirming cancellation of ALL my cobra benefits (dental included – WTH??)

Mid-Oct – I make countless more phone calls to try to straighten this out (each person tells me that my account is being “audited” but no one ever follows up with me).

November – I’m scheduled to go the dentist this month… do I or do I not have coverage??

Mid-November – I finally get someone on the phone who seems to have a clue.. she tells me that I’m re-activated for dental coverage for 2 people but that they are still auditing my account because there still seems to be an unpaid balance.  (If this wasn’t so damn irritating, it would be comical!)

End of November – I think this is when I receive my first return call from the company.  She tells me that they have been billing me incorrectly the entire time (literally the wrong amount) and that based on what I’ve paid them, I have enough of a credit to last me thru June of 2010 (holy crap.. that’s a huge overpayment!).  I’m sort of beside myself but at least I don’t need to make any more payments for 6 months.  I ask what happens if I get a job, and she says they’ll refund any balance to me (yeah, I believe this one… .NOT!)

So, I finish the year with a huge credit, continued dental coverage for myself & hubby and some clean, cavity free teeth from my covered dental visit. I’m celebrating a small victory even if it has taken 6 MONTHS to get this all straightened out.

2010 comes around and guess what I got in the mail this week…    A “Certificate of continued health plan coverage” from the insurance company.  I swear, I could not make this crap up!

So, as I sit here today with seemingly double medical coverage… I haven’t mailed them a check for 2 months and I have no intention of mailing them a check until June… do I call them and open up another can of worms or do I just pretend I never even got this letter.  It’s not like I actually get any answers when I contact someone there?

So, I think I’ll declare this little battle over and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I find another job soon.  And, if this happens I’m sure I’ll have another wonderful story to share about trying to get my “refund” from this company!


Responses

  1. OMG!! And I thought it was just me. I have no option but to use COBRA. I have been on COBRA for a year and battled with one company for over 6 months about correctly applying the subsidized payments. I was paid through part of Dec. 2009. I sent them a check in Dec. for the rest of the Dec. payment. Two days ago (now Jan. 2010) I get an insurance cancellation notice saying I haven’t paid, so insurance was cancelled as of 11/30 (WTF??). Sure enough, the check has never cleared or returned to me. I’m not sure if I should battle this old company for a partial refund, try paying them again, have them acknowledge through part of Dec., or just say “screw it” (currently the most attractive option).

    In the meantime, my former company changed insurance companies as of Jan. 1. To date, I have not received an insurance card or any benefit information. I contacted the broker about a week ago and they provided a temporary card. I finally called the new company and it turns out my address is incorrect. According to this new company my former employer provided the wrong address (Okay…Yeah…Sure). They ordered a new ID card for me, but then gave me a bunch of grief about sending a benefits booklet (the information is available on line after all). When I asked about billing (I haven’t received a bill either), they couldn’t answer any questions about that because they didn’t know if my former employer or this new insurance company was the one billing me (WTF???). Since my former employer has been sending me things to the correct address, I assume I would be getting the bills from them if they were sending them to me (but, no, “we can’t assume that”).

    God help us all. I really need to find a job if for no other reason not to have to deal with this any more.

    • Susan ~ oh my, I can sure feel your pain. It’s beyond frustrating and it’s seemingly impossible to get ahead of it to straighten it all out! I am wishing you better luck with this new company (or better yet… a new job soon!)

  2. I’m sure you’ve reflected on your experience in terms of the current efforts to bring about health-care coverage overhaul. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts. For me, what you’ve been through would seem to support the argument that private insurers are not to be trusted.


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