Apr 7th, 2005


That stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act and is the law that allows workers who lose their jobs to keep their health insurance. And these days, that would be me.

Let me tell you how it works.
I can, if I choose, keep my current coverage. The only difference anyone will see is me, who now has to pay 100% of the costs, instead of splitting the cost with my employer. That means, for a family of two, with not the best policy, but a good policy, and a Point of Service plan, not a true HMO, I am now expected to pay $1,400 a month. That's more than my mortgage.

My unemployment benefits are the maximum allowed by law, and pitiable. They don't even come close to paying that premium. And I have to pay income taxes on the unemployment benefits, to boot.

But back to COBRA. I had about ten days to decide whether or not to take the plan. I had about ten days to pay the bill, when it came.

My old employer, on the other hand, had two months to send me the paper work, and they took every damned day of it. That meant that when I finally got to say "Sign me up" for COBRA, I was now a month in arrears. My first bill was for more than three thousand dollars, and that would take us up to May.

So I paid it. Promptly. Don't want to be caught without insurance, now, do we. Because, you know, with health care in the state it's in, and the costs for it so high, one serious illness or accident could bankrupt a person. Or it could if the Republicans hadn't just made bankruptcy harder. Anyway, I paid it in full.

Then I went to get my prescriptions filled. And the pharmacist told me I no longer have insurance. "But I paid," I wailed. Yep. I did. But COBRA now has up to two months to get me reregistered, during which time, I am expected to pay in full, out of pocket. Once the insureance company gets around to reinstating me, then I can try to get reimbursed from them.

Did you follow all that? I had two weeks to elect to remain covered and get my check in the mail, and they have two months to dick me around.

When I complained to the COBRA rep and tried to get the computer to list me as covered, the rep told me that yes, I was paid up, but the letter of the law allows the insurance company so much time to reinstate me. There was nothing they could do to help me. There was nothing I could do to help myself. I was shit out of luck.

If the meds I needed were life-saving, like a chemo drug, then the company rep could have made an emergency override. But these are just drugs I take for chronic depression, so it wasn't an emergency. Wait two months until I'm on a roof someplace threatening to jump, or take someone with me, and then they can put the emergency request in. Welcome to the system.

The compassionate conservative system of being outsourced, unemployed, uninsured (although, technically I am insured) and being tossed less a living wage to get by.

Bite me.