Monday, October 18, 2010

Snake Charmer

October is turning into a long frustrating month. It is the one month we are on COBRA for health insurance. COBRA is the law allowing one to continue on a group health insurance plan for a period of (up to) 18 months after leaving your place of employment. Steve joined a new firm in September and there is a short waiting period before the health insurance for the new firm kicks in on November 1. The old plan expired September 30, so we are only talking about one month having to use COBRA.  I would not recommend that any family go without health insurance if it is avoidable, and with a child like Maggie, continuous coverage is absolutely essential. COBRA is not cheap, but it covers the one-month gap in coverage for us.  

Except there is a problem. Today is the 18th of the month and it does not seem to be kicking in. We paid the premium immediately and heard nothing. I called several times last week and was advised that I could get an ID # on Friday the 15th, but I wouldn’t have actual cards for another week. I waited as long as possible to renew Maggie’s 14 different medications, but I cannot wait any longer. I have seven of them waiting to be picked up at Walgreens. 

On Friday I stayed on the phone for 45 minutes and finally got the ID# but the insurance still wouldn’t work because “the computers are down: (Really?) The pharmacy tech at Walgreens was on the phone with them for 45 minutes in the morning and told me to come back in the afternoon. I came back around four and she was on the phone with them again. They told her it would be another 24 – 48 hours. I am not even sure if the weekend counts. I could not get the medications.  My choices were to either pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket or wait for the insurance – hopefully today.  I already paid $1000 for the premium; I do not think I should have to pay another $1000 for the meds that are covered. We are waiting. I generally renew the prescriptions before they are completely gone, so I have until today. I did not make it with one of the drugs; we were completely out by Friday. Walgreens’ was nice enough to front me enough pills to get her to Monday evening.

If this is not settled today…....heads will roll. (Shout out to my 4th grade teacher Sr. Carolyn who taught me that line, even as she scared me half to death.)

I need this coverage for one month and it will take all of that time to get it up and running. What, pray tell, is the point? If it is supposed to fill the gap, perhaps it should be available when the gap is present. This insurance, like most, works best only if you do not actually need it.  

I was wondering how it is that this insurance is called “COBRA.”  I know it is an acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, but what in the world do all those names have to do with health insurance?  Given the amount of time and effort it is taking to make it work, I am guessing the name was a warning. It is a cobra, and it may eventually do what you want, but you have to be a talented snake charmer to make it work.  

I'm tuning up now.


  1. I am now going to use the threat: Heads will Roll.

    Good luck with that, is what I say...

  2. What a nightmare. It just shouldn't be so complicated. Good luck in getting everything worked out. I wouldn't want to be on the other end of the rolling heads!!


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