Thursday, May 6, 2010

Insurance, Cobra and Unemployment.

I had a little bit of a meltdown yesterday. I was listening to NPR and the speaker stated that the Cobra Subsidy Program ends the end of this Month.  So, I had to look into it.  For those of you who never had a job, Cobra means nothing to you.  But for those of us that were laid off of jobs at Big Firms, etc.--it is everything.  The subsidy program provides that 65% of Cobra Premiums would be covered by the Government for 15 months.  In my case, that means that I pay $200 a month, rather than $600.  $600 is completely unaffordable.  And THANK GOD, I was completely mistaken about the May 31, 2010 date.  So, the good news is that this subsidy program applies to those that are involuntarily discharged through the end of this month.  So, if you're gonna get fired... and you know it... I would lobby for it to happen before the end of this month.

Of course, I had my back up plan. I was planning on getting catastrophic insurance which provides for a high deductible--but will be there if I get cancer or shot or run over by a car.  The Health Care Reform Act that was passed is so obtuse.  I have no idea whether or how or how soon it will help people like us.  I know that the Health Insurance Companies will not be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and that's about it.

I hope that my readers are not among the 17% of the country that are uninsured. It's an odd time in your life. Most people have no need for doctors while they are in college and can somehow self-medicate through their early twenties.  I didn't have insurance from 18 until 25 and again, from 26 until 28, because I couldn't get it through  my parents and one of the shit law firms I worked for didn't offer insurance.  And I was pissed, but not terribly concerned because I was healthy at the time.  At the latter part of my stint at Shitlaw & Associates, I started to develop stress related stomach issues. I couldn't keep food down and my boss offered to pay for my doctor's appointments--if I went to doctors that were clients of the firm so that he could barter for services.  The problem with this arrangement are the two doctors that owed him money were a chiropractor and a pediatrician.

Whatever.  You can see where this is going.  I eventually left to a respectable firm that offered my insurance and I was diagnosed.  But what I saw in my late 20s and early 30s was at least a dozen girlfriends that had a very similar medical condition--all of whom were uninsured.  I always say, if you don't use your equipment, you lose it.  All of those girl friends developed huge cysts around their ovaries that had to be surgically removed. I can even tell you how much the operation costs... approximately $10,000.  When I say huge, I mean the size of grapefruits and lemons. So, if you're not thinking about insurance and you're about there (as in your late 20s), I think it's something that you need to think about.  As we get older, our health fails us in ways you can't foresee.

Food for thought.


  1. The Health Care Reform Act was a vehicle to increase the number of government agencies. Other than that, it did very little other than guarantee higher insurance premiums, raise the federal debt, and allow additional student loan debt collectors to garnish wages without court orders.

    Years ago I was offered COBRA at over $700 per month. I was leaving one firm to start my own. I declined coverage.

  2. I'm in my late 20s now and have no insurance. I had insurance through my parents in my early-twenties but I never used it anyway.

    This may be one of the fortunate things to being a man. I haven't needed a doctor for so long, and if I'm lucky I won't need one for a decade or two longer.

  3. I just got kicked off my parents insurance in December. Before this I hardly ever went to the doctor, just pretty much to refill my birth control prescription. But, now its like I keep getting sick or having some kind of problem. I've been going to urgent care as my younger sister. Just last week I had a bladder infection. I cleared that up with lots of cranberry juice and Vitamin C. Thank God I can get free birth control from Planned Parenthood or I would suffer from serious cramps every month too.

  4. Sugar,
    This is the type of thing that all uninsured women go through... which is actually not much different than my relatives in third world countries. It's absurd that you have to self-medicate. What if you got a kidney infection????? I feel for you, but please look into catastrophic insurance--just in case you can't cure it next time.

  5. Wish I could, I'm just trying to live day to day. I enjoy reading your blog even though I never attended law school and sure in hell don't plan to. Keep your head up and I'll do the same.

  6. dupednontraditionalMay 6, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    I remember when I quit work to go back to school as a non-trad...we COBRA'd my plan until we could get new health coverage (wife had a preexisting condition). I remember looking a the bill and going WTF?!?!?!? How can these prices be possible? How can anyone rely on CORBRA at all?

    That was right around the turn of the millenium. While I don't expect health care reform to make everything magically better, it is clear that health care costs are rediculous at the same time.

  7. I have a suggestion for those who are single: find a mate who works for the city, the county or the federal government. Their health care is pretty good & if you are married to that person, you'll be covered as a spouse.

    If you can't find someone working for the government, find someone in an occupation w/a good union like maybe a teacher. Some of these jobs don't pay that much but unions make all the difference on health care.

  8. "I didn't have insurance from 18 until 25 and again, from 26 until 28, because I couldn't get it through my parents and one of the shit law firms I worked for didn't offer insurance. "

    Am I correct in assuming that you found a way to pay for law school but couldn't find a way to purchase a private policy for emergencies, surgery, and hospitalizations?

    I'd provide you a link to the company where I got my policy, but then you'd call me a "shill" for the insurance industry. According to the current administration, is there anything worse in the history of humanity?

  9. I was just taking a chance, like many people do. I didn't go to the doctor the whole 7 years I was without insurance, from college to law school. I was lucky. But it was a stupid move. I had mostly scholarships for law school and I pulled out loans for living expenses.. and if I had a job and more money, I would just try to fortify my savings for a rainy day. Insurance was just an unnecessary expense at the time. I was really lucky.
    Please provide me with the link.

  10. The COBRA Subsidy Program has already expired (or been set to expire) two or three times -- originally, the last date you could get on it was 12/31/09 -- but Congress keeps extending it. Current thinking is that it will be extended again; some Democrats want to extend it to the end of 2010.



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