Tag Archives: COBRA

A rock and a hard place

It’s time for us to deal with the part of moving that I’m dreading most: health insurance.

We were uninsured for a year after we moved to North Carolina. I was working part time in retail, Tony was a student, and we were trying to get by on a tiny income. In hindsight, I realize how stupid it was for us to forego coverage, especially since we later learned that we could have afforded high deductible catastrophic coverage. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing.

Now as we look ahead at a lot of unknowns, we have to figure out what we’ll do next. Being uninsured isn’t an option for us right now. We’re grown-ups now, which means we accept that health insurance is a must.

Tony is currently covered by a private policy. His coverage is fairly comprehensive, and includes co-pays for office visits and 100% coverage for preventative care. He hasn’t made a single claim in two years, which is a good thing (knock on wood), but makes me wonder if he may be overinsured just a bit.

We’re considering downgrading his coverage to a mid-grade deductible with 100% coverage for preventative care, 100% coverage after the deductible is met, but no coverage before the deductible. If he needs to go to the doctor for a sinus infection or other minor problem, we’ll pay 100% of the cost up to the deductible. But if something more serious happens, he’ll be covered.

As for me, I’m worried that I’ll be denied private coverage due to my history with anxiety and depression. I also don’t want to deal with the stress of shopping for private insurance as we’re moving and job searching and dealing with a million other stressful situations. Tony is already covered, but getting him signed up for a private policy was a nightmare. Five months and several physicals and questionnaires after he applied, he was finally covered.

I have absolutely no desire to go through that, especially considering my history of mild anxiety and depression. I don’t know that I could stomach being denied coverage for my “condition.” How am I a bigger risk because I decided to seek treatment? I would think that my commitment to staying healthy and happy would make me a lower risk. In my opinion, it’s discriminatory and wrong. But I digress.

My other option is to continue receiving the same health care I currently receive though my employer with COBRA. I’m happy with my insurance, and it includes a $500 HRA provided by my employer (I would continue to receive that benefit). But it costs double what I’d pay for (somewhat) comparable private coverage.

There are just so many questions with private coverage, though. Will they approve me? How long will it take before I’m covered? And how high will my premium be considering my history? The online quotes I’ve received don’t ask about pre-existing conditions, which makes me think that even if they do cover me despite my history of anxiety, I’ll still have a higher premium.

Because of all these factors, we’ve made the decision to continue my coverage through COBRA and decrease Tony’s coverage a bit to ensure that he has a relatively low deductible, but also a lower premium. As long as his deductible is lower than what we have in savings, he’ll be completely covered.

Honestly, I was hoping this wouldn’t be an issue. I know I don’t normally get into this sort of thing here, but I was hoping real health care reform would pass before May, and at the very least, it would be illegal for health companies to deny me based on my minor anxiety issues. But unfortunately, we’re not counting on that happening now.

This hasn’t been a fun decision to make, but we recognize that our health is a priority, so we’ll just have to deal with the high cost of insurance right now. Here’s hoping it’s temporary.

Photo by bryanchan