Health Benefits: COBRA, Spousal, Other or None?

Well folks we are counting down towards the end of the month and I know that health benefits are a number one priority right now.  I have heard from several ex-Hellerites who were thrown overboard that a letter was sent out listing COBRA rates.  I don’ t have a copy and would appreciate the exact details – I will update this post with the info.

What are the choices after 10/31?  Here is what I know:

COBRA: you can elect to sign up for COBRA benefits which I believe run for 18 months as long as you meet the payment deadline every month.  Once you miss a payment – BOOM! – you are dropped.  If you have a pre-existing condition COBRA is an option since you cannot be denied coverage.  Still, we have not heard from Heller on high if COBRA will even be offered.

Spousal: if your spouse or domestic partner can cover you on her/his current plan (and termination of your employment should qualify as a “life event” meaning you don’t need to wait for open enrollment and/or benefits to start on January 1st) then this is one way to be covered, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.  One inequity I should point out: domestic partner coverage has a catch and will cause your spouse to be taxed on extra imputed income at the end of the year.  Example:  if your partner pays $200 a month more to carry you on her benefits as a domestic partner, but the actual value of the benefit is $500, then at the end of the year your partner will see a 1099 or similar form for $300 ($500 value less $200 copay) per month of income.  Taxed at an average of 30%, this is a hefty “surprise” which is brought about by uneven tax laws (legally married vs. domestic partner).

Other:  basically you can seek out coverage on your own ($$$$), see if your state has a funded comprehensive healthcare program ($$$), check out one of the brokers we’ve recommended ($$) or take your chances without coverage ($ now, $$$$$$$ later).

–  check online for coverage by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, etc.  Realize that if you have any pre-existing condition you probably will not be approved.  From one reader comes this info: “I called AARP to see what they had.  Their general policies were expensive $291 and $338, but they also have lesser policies through United Health Care at $115 $76 and $48 a month.  AARP’s number is 1.800.272.2146 and United’s number is 800.272.2146.  You have to be a member of AARP to get any of these insurance policies. I also saw an ad on tv for health insurance at  Their policy is $186 a month.”

– you can opt to participate in your state’s state funded comprehensive healthcare coverage.  This is for people with pre-existing conditions but it is expensive – even more than COBRA most times.  See Health Insurance – What You Should Know.

– check with a broker.  We’ve had good reports about Darin Wright who has been mentioned here at this site before.  One ex-Hellerite writes: “Just want to pass on that I met with Darin Wright – who was referred on the Heller blog.  I liked him, the group health insurance policy he worked out for me is better coverage, believe it or not, and less in premiums than the group coverage at Heller.  That has a lot to do with the size of the group  and the fact that I do not need certain types of coverage, but I do have a family to cover.  There is a medical pre-qualification – but that should not keep people from meeting with Darin.  He says there are certain preexisting conditions that are covered by the plan, but that means a higher premium. “

Mega Life and Health Insurance, a Healthmarkets company
212 Jackson St.
San Jose, Ca.
510-289-3700 direct


– check out some of the various Health Families or Healthy Children programs in your area.  There are income level qualifications and I’m not sure that being unemployed will allow you to participate

– wing it and take your chances.  You will end up in the emergency room for treatments or perhaps some of the outpatient clinics you see at Wal-Mart or CVS.  Many of us of a “certain age” with prescriptions and pre-existing conditions can’t take these chances but if you are in between jobs, think you’ll pick something (like a job) or someone (like a domestic partner or spouse) up, then this might be your best bet.


1 Response to “Health Benefits: COBRA, Spousal, Other or None?”

  1. 1 xyz 26 October 2008 at 10:34 pm

    BE CAREFUL — I met with Darin and got a quote on from his company. It sounded too good to be true. Then I googled “Mega Health and Life” and there is some pretty worrisome stuff out there. Buyer beware.

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