Experience of health care plans and life insurance please.
December 10, 2003 5:37 AM   Subscribe

From the insurance dilemma department.....I'm leaving my [much despised] job this month and have been shopping for an individual health insurance policy. What. A. Jungle. Anyone here ever heard of/know about healthcareadvantageplans.com or this "insurance alternative"? I'm not sure I understand how these beasties work.

Signed, clueless.

PS. I'm not doing the COBRA thing b/c the soon to be ex-employer is changing insurance companies effective Jan 1 2004, and I had visions of endless red tape. Not to mention foreseeing, "well technically you have no policiy since you left the company..." etc etc etc.
posted by yoga to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You're definitely eligible for COBRA - it doesn't matter how you left the company. There might be an exception for getting fired due to doing something bad but not in your case.

The answer completely depends on your pre-existing condition status. If you have one, go COBRA. If not, the individual plans may be a good alternative.

Watch especially for your prescription drug allowance limits - those can kick you in the ass.
posted by PrinceValium at 5:45 AM on December 10, 2003


That's where the confusion comes in: the 'non' insurance deals both say pre-existing conditions don't matter. And both have set prices for generic and name brands. Is there some catch I'm completely missing?
posted by yoga at 6:00 AM on December 10, 2003


I would stick with COBRA no matter what, but megnut had a good listing of options on individual health insurance recently. Don't do Blue Cross unless you have absolutely no other choice--very very expensive and limited. Freelancer's Union has health too, but i'm not sure it's available all over-- ditto with Mediabistro's Avant Guild.
posted by amberglow at 6:02 AM on December 10, 2003


also, you can pretty much join any professional association (even if you're not in the field) to get on their plan (a la Avant Guild above).
posted by amberglow at 6:06 AM on December 10, 2003


Thanks, Amber. I did find out this AM that companies I mentioned initially are repricers - not insurance companies. they work directly with doctors offices and bring them clients in exchange for a discount to members. So unless there's a major pre-existing, one could still get stuck w/ a big bill.
posted by yoga at 7:29 AM on December 10, 2003


For temporary insurance (up to six months), try Fortis. In Washington, Regence BlueShield offers invididual plans that I thought were quite reasonably priced, so check your local BC/BS affiliates. (This directly contradicts amberglow's advice, I realize.)

Another option if you're young, in generally good health, with no pre-existing conditions is to buy just major medical. It only covers major expenses, and you have to pay for doctor visits yourself. It's almost always less expensive than an HMO/PPO type health plan (which is not insurance, really).
posted by kindall at 11:18 AM on December 10, 2003


Your (soon-to-be-ex-)employer has a way better negotiating position than you do, so if you want standard coverage, that's still likely to be the best bet. They are required to offer it to you, so if the red tape piles up, push back hard.

For standalone coverage, I've had the best luck with very high deductible insurance. Call the biggest insurance agencies listed in the yellow pages, and see what they've got. The spam offers for insurance are not legit. Your state will have some kind of insurance regulatory board. Call them to check out potential companies. Better Business Burea is good, too.
posted by theora55 at 11:41 AM on December 10, 2003


yoga, regarding COBRA, you can sign up for it anytime up to 90 days from the time you leave your job. By that time, the new health plan should be in effect, and the red tape will be really no more than if the company weren't switching plans. The only thing that might create a lot of red tape is applying for COBRA after you receive care, and then trying to get that care covered.

This is all assuming my CA info is good to you in NC. Isn't COBRA federal?
posted by scarabic at 8:27 PM on December 10, 2003


I was unaware of the 90 info, thanks. I have decided to go with Fortis with a high deductible for now, until I can wrap my brain around another option down the road. Thanks, all!
posted by yoga at 11:26 AM on December 11, 2003


Also, when you get Cobra, you should receive a piece of paper which will allow you to switch to a new company without losing any coverage of preexisting conditions. But the catch is that you have to do it before the cobra insurance runs out.
posted by konolia at 10:59 AM on December 13, 2003


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