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dumb people need health insurance too
September 29, 2011 8:27 AM   Subscribe

I screwed up by waiting too long to get health insurance. Now what do I do?

I procrastinated. My student health insurance extension runs out 9/30, which is Friday. My job doesn't start until 10/17. Is there anything I can possibly do to get health insurance to cover 10/1-10/17? Medicaid told me it would take at least 45 days just to process my application.
posted by prefpara to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you need something specific covered for those two weeks? You generally have a 30-180 day window (depending on state, insurance co, etc) before you trip the "continuation of coverage" flag.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:37 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can you get COBRA to continue your student health insurance? If so - you're in a similar situation that I was in. Here's what my HR person told me:

Take the COBRA paperwork. You have 90 days to fill it out, but don't fill it out yet.

If something happens in the 17 days that you are uninsured, THEN you fill out the COBRA paperwork. It will backdate to the end of your student insurance. If nothing happens in the 17 days, then don't sweat it.

If I am spreading lies here, people more knowledgeable about this sort of thing, feel free to set me straight. I was really stressing out about my one-month gap in insurance and the wait-to-fill-out-COBRA plan was the perfect solution. (I didn't have to use it, though.)
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:39 AM on September 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


You can get short term or gap insurance for in between dates. However, I don't know how fast it'll kick in. In addition, when I had it - it did not cover any preventative care - only things like ER trips with a large deductible.
posted by quodlibet at 8:39 AM on September 29, 2011


Options:

Buy individual coverage for a month. You should be able to get a short term plan easily enough (google for more, shouldn't be too hard)

Let it lapse, try not to get hit by a car during those 3 weeks.
posted by reptile at 8:40 AM on September 29, 2011


My job doesn't start until 10/17

You might want to check on when your job provides health insurance, because often it is 30-90 days before benefits kick in. Rarely does health insurance start on day 1.

You may want to quickly look into private health insurance for the time being. Go for something like a catastrophic insurance that will cover ER, etc. with a high deductible as a CYA in case you get in an accident. Go to a doctor ASAP to get prescriptions refilled now at a the cheap student health insurance price.

I don't know if it is an option for you, but if you are under 26 and have a parent who is willing to help, get on your parent's insurance.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:43 AM on September 29, 2011


I also have used the strategy that Elly Vortex mentions, though I must admit I didn't end up needing any coverage for the ~3 weeks I was without insurance so I can't say with certainty that it works. I did try to be extra cautious during that time, but it gave me some peace of mind to have the COBRA as an option.
posted by Bebo at 8:48 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can get short term health insurance for pretty cheap but it will be more of the catastrophic variety and likely won't cover much and will have high deductibles.
posted by ghharr at 8:52 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know whether there's some special thing that makes your student insurance ineligible for Cobra, but if it is eligible (ask them right now!) it is absolutely your best bet. It is always better to be on a group plan.

I have done what Bebo and Elly Vortex describe, and I DID end up needing to get the Cobra after an unexpected ER visit. It was absolutely fine, I just had to pay the back premiums, and actually I'm still on it.
posted by crabintheocean at 9:37 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not a lawyer, but having any gap in coverage ever is a terrible idea and something to be avoided if you have the option. Aside from catastrophic events that may happen during your coverage gap, a gap in coverage may leave you open to having claims denied in the future. Temporary individual plans can be relatively inexpensive, and as others have mentioned, COBRA may be a good option if you are eligible.
posted by anonnymoose at 10:05 AM on September 29, 2011



Can you get COBRA to continue your student health insurance?


Not likely. COBRA is for group health insurance, and student health insurance is usually not considered group health insurance.
posted by Pax at 10:11 AM on September 29, 2011


having any gap in coverage ever is a terrible idea and something to be avoided if you have the option. Aside from catastrophic events that may happen during your coverage gap, a gap in coverage may leave you open to having claims denied in the future.

Group health plans subject to HIPAA would prevent the new plan from imposing a pre-existing condition exclusion on someone who had only a 2 week period of non-coverage (magic number is 63 days).
posted by Pax at 10:12 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, HIPAA would prevent a group health plan subject to HIPAA from imposing the pre-ex under based on a 2-week lapse in coverage.
posted by Pax at 10:15 AM on September 29, 2011


If your new job's health insurance kicks in on the first day (which I understand is actually pretty unlikely), but saying it does, what do you need coverage for in the two week gap? Do you have prescription costs/need frequent care for a chronic condition? Are you just worried that you'll get hit by a bus? Is it purely for peace of mind (in which case, is it really worth it?) Lapses in coverage have to be longer than two weeks to trip anything up, from what I understand. Just having health insurance doesn't somehow make you magically healthier, if you aren't actually using it.
posted by MadamM at 11:14 AM on September 29, 2011


Does the recent Health Care reform bill help you out? I think you can get on your parents health care until you are 25.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:09 PM on September 29, 2011


Some additional details:
I'm 27
I was on a school plan
I am primarily concerned about not getting screwed by preexisting conditions bs and the getting hit by a bus scenario
I am not concerned about needing to access care during the first two weeks of October
posted by prefpara at 12:31 PM on September 29, 2011


WEll based on the fact that you're most concerned about pre-existing conditions (soon will be illegal) and hit by a bus, I would gamble and just not do anything. In the case of getting hit by a bus, apply for charity care at whatever hospital you end up in. It will be cheaper than paying an insurance premium and deductible in the unlikely event of getting hit by a bus.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:55 PM on September 29, 2011


The end of the story: I was not hit by a bus, my work health insurance kicked in on the day I started, and I still feel stupid for not taking care of this but ultimately it's an all's well that ends well situation. Thanks for reassuring me about the lapse in coverage issue. I <3 you MetaFiltites.
posted by prefpara at 1:05 PM on November 1, 2011


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