Who Do I Write My COBRA Check To?
February 27, 2012 7:35 PM   Subscribe

COBRAfilter: Do I make the check for the plan payment out to the health insurance company, or to my former employer? The info packet former employer gave me is woefully shoddily written and leaves out key details like that. I've never enrolled in COBRA before, so not sure what to do. Check is due by Thursday. HR at former company notoriously difficult to actually track down via email or phone to get an answer.
posted by thereemix to Work & Money (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Your employer is continuing you on the group plan under COBRA. They are paying the premium, you are reimbursing them. Make the check out to the employer.

(I am an employer, I have dealt with COBRA in the past, this is how we did it)
posted by HuronBob at 7:42 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

And, if you doubt that they are going to handle it well (based on your comment about HR), make sure you get a receipt for the check and/or mail it with some sort of receipt for delivery.
posted by HuronBob at 7:44 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

HuronBob's way is exactly how it worked with me when I paid COBRA at my old job.
posted by jessamyn at 8:04 PM on February 27, 2012

Yup, 3rding HuronBob. I was on Cobra last year. I paid my prior employer (a large public school district) and they handled the rest.
posted by Sal and Richard at 8:19 PM on February 27, 2012

When I was on COBRA after one job I paid my employer. But on my last job, I paid the insurance company directly. It probably depends on whatever deal your employer has with the carrier.

In both cases they sent me bills each month and included a payment coupon and envelope to pay the bill. My last COBRA I could pay online from their website which was nice since I could pay them at the last minute w/o worrying about losing coverage or checks getting delayed in the mail.
posted by birdherder at 8:26 PM on February 27, 2012

My experience was similar to birdherder's. I got a COBRA bill every month, and made the check out to the company that handled my ex-job's COBRA stuff, which I think was Conexis.
posted by LionIndex at 8:30 PM on February 27, 2012

Seconding birdherder. I got a bill and paid the insurance company.

Seeing that it varies based on the answers you're getting, I would hound your HR until they answer you. Getting it wrong can create a lot of problems with your eligibility given you are down to the wire. It's not something you want to screw up.
posted by cecic at 9:15 PM on February 27, 2012

It depends on where you are. In my state, one company is contracted to handle it for the whole state. I'm still covered by the same insurance provider I was with at my old job, as in that's the card I present at the doctor, but I pay this contracted company. My former employer is not involved at all.
posted by Askr at 9:22 PM on February 27, 2012

I make COBRA payments directly to the insurer.

Basically, the answer is that you have to make sure for your individual situation. Just keep going till you get an answer.
posted by judith at 9:23 PM on February 27, 2012

I'm also paying the insurer.
posted by Gridlock Joe at 9:30 PM on February 27, 2012

It doesn't have anything to do with your state. An employer will choose how they administer their COBRA. Some use services provided by the insurance company. Some do it themselves. Some use a third party. It is VERY important that you make sure it goes to the right party. If you miss payments because you sent them to the wrong party and your coverage lapses, then you are out of luck. It does not matter if you get a delivery confirmation and a receipt. The COBRA legislation does not make an allowance for trying to do it but not getting it right.

Your insurance company may have a contact number for the COBRA administrator.

Can you say who the insurance company is?
posted by slavlin at 9:53 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I was on COBRA, I sent checks to the insurance company. When I signed up, they gave me an envelope full of 18 months of payment coupon.

Sounds like it was the opposite for some others.
posted by JiBB at 10:30 PM on February 27, 2012

To clarify, I am in NY state, insurer is Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, former employer is small (50-100 employers). It sounds like I should hound them till I get an answer. I am loathe to call them because they treated me (and treat their employees) poorly and it's obnoxious that it' so hard to reach HR, but y'all are right: this isn't something to mess around with.
posted by thereemix at 2:03 AM on February 28, 2012

If you can't get your employer on the phone call the Blues and ask them. They'll know.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:19 AM on February 28, 2012

Empire BCBS should have sent you a Cobra eligibility letter outlining payment procedure for COBRA. Yes, and my life runs perfectly, too. Call BCBS for instructions. They should let you pay electronically to avoid mailing deadlines.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:28 AM on February 28, 2012

In case anyone is still reading...tried to contact HR all day yesterday, via email and phone. No response. This is just obnoxious. I'm going to follow up with BCBS, but I just wanted to update and say, dude, wtf. I realize I don't work there anymore, but since I have to enroll in COBRA through them I'm stuck dealing with them for the next 18 months (hopefully I'm able to enroll in insurance elsewhere before that). Way to be totally careless. One of many, many reasons I am so glad I don't work there anymore. /rant
posted by thereemix at 11:30 AM on February 29, 2012

Both times I've been on COBRA (including now), my former companies used a third-party benefits administrator. This time around, I enrolled online, then the benefits administrator sent me payment coupons and instructions once I enrolled. (Last time it was essentially the same, except I had to mail in a form in order to enroll)
posted by SisterHavana at 6:00 PM on February 29, 2012

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