Is there a way to purchase Obamacare health plans if one is moving?
May 9, 2014 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Posting this question for a friend: I am moving, and will be looking for a job in my new state. I am hoping to find something quickly, but will be unemployed as of the time I move because I am quitting my current job. Is Cobra my only option, or is it possible to qualify for a plan through the exchange (possibly with subsidies)? My concern is that all the plans on the exchange website for the state I am moving to (Massachusetts) require me to be an in-state resident, which I am not yet because I have not moved.
posted by rainbowbrite to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One thing to keep in mind is that COBRA is retroactive. So if you don't find anything before you move, you can stay "uninsured" until you get to Mass and get your residency and new insurance settled in. If something major happens in the interim you can get COBRA and it will cover you even though you didn't have it registered at the time.
posted by radioamy at 12:38 PM on May 9, 2014

How long would it take to become a Massachusetts resident?

If you're under a deadline to get Obamacare, it might be good to call a professional in the state you currently live in, and see if it'd be worth it to sign up with a plan there. Also, if that can be used in Massachusetts until you're a resident. Your situation isn't that unique, I'm sure they have a means to deal with this situation.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:40 PM on May 9, 2014

If you do what radioamy recommends, make sure you fill out and sign your COBRA forms and have them ready to go somewhere where your emergency contact can easily mail them for you if something really bad happens. Also just to be clear it is only retroactive as long as you get the forms in by the deadline, which is about 60 days. More info about the deadline:
posted by insoluble uncertainty at 1:23 PM on May 9, 2014

I signed up for the MA health insurance exchange while I was still out of state, and just picked an insurance start date AFTER the move date. As noted, you can be "Schroedinger's insured" under Cobra - if you experience a health event, you call up your Cobra provider and tell them that yes, you'd like to opt for coverage and it will be back-dated to the date you left your job. (Note that you will have to pay for however many month's worth of premium exist between your last day and the day you opt for coverage, as well as whatever expenses you've incurred.)

The supporting documents you need to verify residency are here: Note that a copy of your lease and most recent rent payment will work as verification that you're a resident.
posted by athenasbanquet at 1:34 PM on May 9, 2014

Lived in MA from 2000-2001 and again from 2003-2008.

If you have a lease or mortgage with a Massachusetts address, that is all you need to establish in-state residency. If you need a driver's license to prove it, that's a quick-ish trip to the Registry with that document (pro tip: go to the website beforehand to see which RMV has the shortest wait times, and avoid the Boston branch whenever possible). Conceivably, it could all be done on the same day you sign the lease.

Not sure what Mass Health Connector needs, as I had compliant insurance through my job when they enacted statewide universal health care, then promptly moved to Virginia.
posted by tckma at 1:39 PM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing doing the COBRA retroactive arbitrage thing (assuming you don't have expensive ongoing care needs). I did this and it ended up saving me like $1000. Just make sure your exchange policy will start before the COBRA election period ends (60 days I believe).
posted by melissasaurus at 1:52 PM on May 9, 2014

For COBRA, you have 60 days after the later of receiving an election notice from your employer or the end of your current coverage. If you decide you want the retroactive coverage, you must meet this 60-day deadline to submit your request form.

In addition, from the date you elect COBRA coverage, you then have another 45 days before a payment is due. So effectively you can wait up to 105 days before deciding whether to commit to COBRA or pay nothing.

If you have no medical claims that require retroactive payment, you can just forget COBRA and use new insurance, either from the exchange or a new employer. If you elect to go with COBRA, you will need to pay up the retroactive premiums.

Just don't miss the 60-day and 45-day deadlines. Make sure you know the exact dates.
posted by JackFlash at 2:20 PM on May 9, 2014

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