How to be COBRA commanders?
September 11, 2018 12:13 PM   Subscribe

My wife is leaving her job at the end of this month and her health insurance (which currently covers both of us) is ending September 26. I have signed us both up for my job’s health insurance plan and that takes effect October 1. Is it worth it to sign up for COBRA for a whole month when we only really need it for a few days?

Is there anything I don’t know or am not thinking about here?

Bonus difficulty: wife is two months pregnant.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
It's not worth signing up for in advance, because COBRA is retroactive. So, if something happens and you need medical care on one of those days between September 26 and October 1, you can sign up afterward and COBRA will retroactively cover it.
posted by something something at 12:16 PM on September 11, 2018 [25 favorites]

I don't know all the conceivable rules and laws that might apply to your situation, but I do know that:
1) You can retroactively pay/enroll for COBRA up to 60 days after
2) Even one day of coverage in a month is fine for the purposes of the individual mandate.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 12:19 PM on September 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

To elaborate on something something's comment, you have 60 days from your loss of coverage to elect to take COBRA, but the election is retroactive to the first day you wouldn't have had coverage (Sep 27) if you didn't elect, not the date you actually submit the election.
posted by ddbeck at 12:21 PM on September 11, 2018

Let it slide and sign up retroactively if something goes wrong.

One thing I did in the past was give a signed COBRA sign-up form to a trusted 3rd party to send in if something happened that would make it hard to send the COBRA sign-up yourself.
posted by doomsey at 12:21 PM on September 11, 2018 [11 favorites]

Yes, COBRA is retroactive. I was grateful for this when I came down with pneumonia and was hospitalized for three days, only a month into my new job, with health coverage due to start two months later. It was super easy to sign up for, no worries at all.

On preview, seconding doomsey's suggestion.
posted by cooker girl at 12:21 PM on September 11, 2018

Yes to the above, and there's more detail in these previous questions, Should I use COBRA or ACA to cover a one-month gap in coverage? and Minding a health insurance gap, including this suggestion from magnetsphere:

What I usually tell people who will have a less than 60 day gap:

1. Fill out the COBRA paperwork
2. Put it and a check for the premiums in an addressed envelope with a stamp.
3. Put the envelope somewhere obvious.
4. Tell significant other / friend: "If I'm in the hospital, mail that envelope."
5. Once you get new coverage, shred the envelope.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:30 PM on September 11, 2018 [13 favorites]

You're sure her coverage ends on September 26? Often employers go to the end of the month with it. Just a thing to check.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:40 PM on September 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'm currently on Cobra and followed the advice about having an envelope ready with payment/sign-up info in case something happened before I officially decided to move forward.

Your case may be different, but my coverage ended on Oct. 16 and that month's Cobra fee was pro-rated.
posted by icaicaer at 1:25 PM on September 11, 2018

Another vote for check when your coverage ends. At my (small construction) company, coverage is never canceled mid-month. You owe for/are covered for the full month, even if you only worked one day in that month.

But also yes to Cobra being retroactive so you have no lapse in coverage, in case those days are not covered.
posted by Glinn at 2:35 PM on September 11, 2018

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