Health insurance question
February 18, 2015 12:24 AM   Subscribe

I got a job! But my health insurance doesn't start until August 1, and my current coverage runs out on May 31 - and there is no COBRA option. What do I do?

I have a chronic illness that would bankrupt me if something went wrong, so I can't just go uninsured for July and hope for the best. My current plan is "not an employee sponsored plan" despite the fact that I am an employee here (the place I work likes to really play fast and loose with the law, especially when it means keeping money in their pocket at the expense of its workers) so I don't think that state continuation would work, either.

My new employer has offered to foot the bill for the month of July, which is great, but what do I do? Do I go on the open market and get insurance there? For one month? Do I get short-term health insurance, which doesn't look like it covers pre-existing conditions? Who should I be talking to about this? What reputable resources can I look at?

Sorry, I've spent some time trying to research this and I am not able to make heads or tails of things. My HR manager at my current job is not very helpful, either.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Losing health coverage should be a qualifying event allowing you to enroll outside open enrollment periods. Go to or your state's marketplace and check out what plans are available to you. In my area I have options from catastrophic to a really impressive zero deductible platinum plan. The rates are surprisingly good (around $300/mo for the no-deductible platinum plan, with a very low out of pocket max -- not an issue for your if you're going to have it for a very short period of time, but just as a point of reference) and you can drop it once you have work-related coverage. Thank the good lord and our dear president, you no longer have to worry about pre-existing conditions being an issue. I have several major pre-existing conditions but they don't even (can't even) ask -- it's just based on your age, sex, and whether you smoke or not.
If you continue to have issues, definitely call the ACA hotline or go to one of the in-person storefronts. I've heard really good things about the service you get from them, and they know the ins and outs of the system. But basically, Affordable Care means you should be able to get a decent health plan to cover you while you're waiting for your employer-related insurance to start up.
posted by katemonster at 1:08 AM on February 18, 2015 [7 favorites]

Yup! This is one of the many problems solved by the ACA. It is now dead simple to get affordable insurance no matter how preexistingly sick you are. THANKS OBAMA

I would recommend filling out the application online and then calling the phone number to complete the process. Really easy, probably will take less than a half hour.

If you're in Illinois, one of our Chicago mefites works for the state marketplace. Send me a memail and I can let him know.
posted by phunniemee at 2:54 AM on February 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh it also sounds like your previous employer is maybe not doing the right thing. If you were me (and I'm the kind of rulesy prick who would do this kind of thing), I'd do all of my former coworkers a solid and tell the folks exactly why you can't get continuing coverage through your employer. I would ask if there's someone I could speak to so I could give them the employer's info if they want to do a compliance check.
posted by phunniemee at 2:58 AM on February 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

I would go to the marketplace and pick a plan that has a low deductible since your new employer has offered to pay for it for you. It will be expensive but it is short term and will be worth the piece of mind having it.
posted by just asking at 4:09 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Pre-existing condition exclusions were eliminated by the ACA, and there's nothing at all to stop you from signing up on to cover a gap - I did just that last spring for three months. One tip: find out after you start how much notice you need to cancel your temporary insurance; you may essentially have to get it, wait for it to start, and immediately schedule its end.
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:04 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

It will be expensive

Well, as compared to what? I have a $0 deductible platinum plan for $250. $250 isn't super cheap in the grand scheme of things, but it's a solid $200 less than what COBRA would have cost on the last employer plan I had, and $400 less than COBRA off the plan my dad has through his work. And that $250 doesn't include the tax credit you can opt into.
posted by phunniemee at 6:41 AM on February 18, 2015

It sounds like you also need coverage for June, by the way, unless there is some mistake in your dates?
posted by freezer cake at 8:16 AM on February 18, 2015

You will need a document provided by your previous employer called a Certificate of Insurance in order to support your "qualifying event" of losing your insurance. You will need to wait until you have left your job to get it - it comes from HR and is mandated, so they will send it. This is the document that enables you to apply for any coverage, not just Obamacare. I am not sure you will be able to get coverage for June, though, since you can't shop for ACA insurance while employed. Also, I don't think you can have coverage begin in the middle of the month. If you can't shop until June, coverage starts July 1. That is what happened to me, but since my previous employer covered me for several weeks after my employment ended, I had time to shift coverage, in my case to my husband's employer.

In short, no insurance company will sell you health insurance unless you present the Certificate of Insurance. Can you contact a broker to get all your ducks in a row so when you receive the COI you can immediately move forward? He or she will also help you select the best policy for your situation.
posted by citygirl at 8:21 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Check each plan's formulary to see if your medications are covered, before you join. (Ask me how I know this.)
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 10:11 PM on February 18, 2015

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