Where can I get health insurance in a day or two?
March 5, 2012 9:31 PM   Subscribe

I just discovered that my COBRA was mishandled and that I have been uninsured for half a year. I checked into it only because I am leaving the country on Sunday and wanted to make sure everything is square. It isn't. Where can I get myself health insurance in a day or two?

I am divorced and as part of the settlement, my ex husband agreed to pay for COBRA coverage for me through his employer. I submitted the proper forms, etc., etc. but he never paid and somehow I never received notice of this. I talked to HR at his place of employment. The woman I spoke with was very helpful and offered to attempt to reapply despite lack of payment. Of course, I would have to pay premiums for each month from the start of Sept. (when COBRA should have commenced) to the tune of over $6,000. This seems like a huge amount of money to spend even if they were to accept my appeal and grant coverage. (I know it was stupid of me to trust him to do this and not double check earlier, believe me my face is squarely planted in my palm.)

The twist to this is that my big, cliche post-divorce adventure starts on Wednesday. I am going to be biking all over western Europe. If I happen to get splattered by a semi I'd like to have some sort of coverage. I'll be gone for three to four months in total and may go mountaineering during part of the trip.

I live in MN and have talked to Health Partners and Blue Cross Blue Shield. Both have told me that they will deny me coverage as I am intending to be out of the country for the first few months.

I have started to google traveler's insurance but am quite confused as to what options would work and if I could even apply for them not having "regular" insurance of any kind (I read somewhere that it is often a requirement for traveler's insurance).

Any help or advice would be deeply appreciated. I am really kicking myself for not having checked in on this sooner.
posted by telomere to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You may have some coverage through a credit card.

I know in canada you can get coverage for travel online (I'm familiar with Blue Cross ) so that might be a good way for you to deal with this as it can be purchased right away.

You could buy something shorter term with option to renew, and see if you can get this other insurance worked out in the mean time. if not, extend the private insurance.
posted by chapps at 9:38 PM on March 5, 2012

IANAL/IANYL, but if you're divorced and it was part of a signed settlement, he may be in contempt of court for not having met the obligation. I know that doesn't help you now, but it may provide an avenue for recouping any out of pocket expenses this causes you.
posted by dotgirl at 9:47 PM on March 5, 2012 [8 favorites]

If you're going abroad, it's the perfect time to realise your ex crapped out on your coverage because you can pick up good travel health insurance very cheaply.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:54 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you want travel insurance. I just used InsureMyTrip.com to look at some policies - looks like between $300-$700 on average for 3 months comprehensive travel insurance to Europe including medical coverage. I just read the insurance certificate for one of the Allianz policies and it says


This is primary coverage.
If you're eligible for benefits or compensation through a government-funded program other than Medicaid, you don't qualify for this coverage.

So it sounds like you don't need other coverage.

The best thing would probably be to get the names of some travel insurance providers through googling and ring them about your specific questions. I had a medical insurance/travel insurance problem (I didn't realise my travel insurance had expired until after I had arrived for a visit to the USA) and rang up one of the companies I found online to get covered for my special snowflake situation.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 10:59 PM on March 5, 2012

Definitely travel insurance, and look for providers that offer coverage for (potentially) hazardous activities like climbing as an optional extra.
posted by holgate at 11:23 PM on March 5, 2012

Keep in mind that if you don't go the COBRA/retro route, you will have had a break in coverage that might hurt you when you try to get regular (non-travel) coverage in the group or individual market (meaning if you have preexisting conditions, which it doesn't sound like you do, given you didn't know you weren't insured for the past six months, but if you get hurt or sick any time before getting covered again, that might be an issue).

Starting in 2014 preexisting condition exclusions won't really be a factor, but, personally, I'd go the retro COBRA route, see if they'll do a payment plan, and then sue your ex to enforce the coverage obligation in the divorce decree.
posted by Pax at 7:22 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

look into travel insurance. i don't think you can get a regular policy in force in that short of a period of time and they may not have coverage out of the country anyway.
posted by domino at 10:44 AM on March 6, 2012

No worries, the right travel insurance will fully cover you for the full course of your trip (no current policy required). They are also generally affordable, esp for the peace of mind.

You would need to decide what kind of coverage you want:

Medical and hospital coverage only: most common, affordable. Some treat you at their own facilities in the country-of-travel; others have agreements with local hospitals. You can even elect to speak to a U.S. Doctor in case of any injury/illness, big or small and they will manage your care going forward.

Evacuation coverage: this option literally offers you the chance to be evacuated to either a reputable hospital in the nearest country, or to fly you back to the U.S. for treatment (all depends on the coverage you select).

Some reputable companies you can research: TravelGuard, MedJet Assist, HTH worldwide, SOS Int'l.
posted by Kruger5 at 11:25 AM on March 6, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for the very valuable input! You must forgive me for not responding to everyone at length as I'm leaving for the airport in three hours (I'm heading to NYC before leaving the country).

I did end up opting for SOS International as I had used them before while living abroad and they were quite good as far as I recall. I was under the impression that their services were only for long term expats associated with major NGOs and was pleased to see that they offer short term leisure insurance for individuals.

I will deal with obtaining medical coverage stateside when I return and will probably post another question about that then, ha. Thanks again!
posted by telomere at 11:00 PM on March 6, 2012

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