Please help me understand COBRA and my family's options after it runs out.
I left my job in March 2011 and enrolled in COBRA for coverage for myself, my husband and our child. Soon after I left my job, we moved from Oregon to Idaho, a state that our insurance does not cover as part of their network. We rarely visit the doctor so this hasn't been an issue so far, but because our coverage will run out soon (I was recently told it will run out after 15 months, which puts us at June of this year) and it doesn't cover where we live anyway, it made sense to me to try to buy our own insurance plan. Employer-based insurance is not an option right now, as I am not working at the moment and my husband's employer does not offer health insurance.
We applied for an individual policy but were denied because we didn't have a Certificate of Creditable Coverage. I contacted our insurance provider to obtain this certificate and was told, "In order to obtain a Certificate of Creditable Coverage your policy has to be terminated." So now I am mystified how to get off
of COBRA if we will be denied from a replacement plan while we still have it.
We are young (26, child is almost 2), very healthy, with no prescriptions. (From what I've heard re: COBRA, our payment seems comparatively low; it has been around $280 and is going up to $310 in a couple weeks.) Being uninsured makes me really nervous and I'd really rather not go that route; at the very least I'd like catastrophic coverage and maternity coverage, just in case.
I understand very little about health insurance and how it all works and what questions to ask to get the answers I need, but I don't want to be left uninsured because of that. Please help me figure out what our options are!
1. Do I really need to let COBRA run out (so we can get that certificate) before we can be approved for a different policy?
2. What specifically happens when our COBRA coverage ends? As in, are we considered uninsured until we can be approved for a different policy? Will that affect our eligibility?
3. Because we were denied from the one company we applied to, does that mean we are more likely to get denied if we apply to them again? What about other companies? Does it matter that it was not health-condition-related, but paperwork-related?
4. AskMeFi was the only place I could think of to get help with this. Are there other resources out there for explaining this stuff? I did look here
, but it doesn't have answers to several of the things I want to know.
Thanks for any input you have to offer, and please let me know if I've left out any relevant information. (And if I am misunderstanding how COBRA works, please tell me that too! I just don't want to end up uninsured due to a preventable mistake.)