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I suppose Cobra was designed to help people retain insurance coverage during times of unemployment or, as in our case, as we phase between two jobs.  And, as in Alma’s situation, continuing coverage prevents disqualification based upon pre-existing conditions.  Those are good things, but more should be done.

 

An election to Cobra should be part of the termination process.  Paperwork should be completed, and the process begun on the spot.  As it is currently done, the company contracts with a Cobra management company, sends them notice, and they in turn send a notice to the former employee.  The former employee has a couple of months to elect Cobra, but in the meantime, insurance coverage is cancelled as of the termination date.

 

Which brings me to the second point.  Somehow, benefits should continue seamlessly.  If the former employee elects Cobra at the time of termination, and pays the necessary premium, then insurance benefits should continue without interruption.  This is particularly crucial in Alma’s case, because many of her drugs are far too expensive for us to pay for out of pocket, even though we are assured we’ll be re-imbursed once insurance is re-instated.  Coverage should be seamless.

 

The government should subsidize, or loan money to, the insured.  Subsidy may be asking too much of our over-extended government, but even a loan, which could be paid back much like student loans, for instance, would be a great help to the consumer.  Our Cobra insurance payment is about $650 a month.  We have to pay it because we cannot afford for Alma to be disqualified in the future, and our expenses each month would exceed that amount if we had to pay out-of-pocket.  But if a loan or subsidy covered the employer’s portion, our insurance would remain around $250 a month, a much more manageable amount.

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