Last month I had a wonderful surprise. Almost three-quarters of the way through the month, I received a letter from my COBRA Third-Party Vendor notifying me that my ex-employer had changed plans, effective October 1st. So suddenly there I found myself without coverage until my elections were processed. To add insult to injury though, I went from a Class A PPO plan for $430/mo (not bad by NY standards) to a Class B HMO plan for (brace yourselves) $584/mo. So not only was I now dealing with being sans coverage, but I was paying a lot more for an HMO. Drat.
Fine, I figured, I have no choice. I called the TPV to confirm which forms I had to complete and return, wrote the painful cheques to cover the difference for October and the full November premium, and sent them off with my completed election form. Weeks went by and no word. Then suddenly I got a call from the Benefits Administrator from my old company. Turns out the COBRA TPV had messed up and there were additional forms that were required. It took until last week for my enrollment to process and display in the new provider's system. Unbelievable.
Since I do primarily contract work- not because that's my preference but rather that's what's available for my line of work- I find myself in this situation frequently. I mean, this is the fourth time in 2 years that my provider has changed, and so during that time I had effectively paid for 6 months of coverage during which I couldn't use my insurance because forms were being processed. I decided to try and improve my lot, and sought the counsel of my good friend, who works as a lawyer in the medical field. She told me that I should try to find an association to join in order to obtain group coverage.
I took the advice to heart and spent the last couple of weeks researching potential associations to join. Unfortunately for me though, these associations only offer group insurance if you are a 1099 or small business owner. For poor sobs like myself, the only option seems to remain only COBRA or individual health insurance, neither of which is a really decent option. Sigh.
What brought this to mind? I went downstairs earlier to collect the mail and lo! there was my premium notice waiting for my next cheque. Sometimes you've just got to wonder why there isn't a better way...