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Worst Day Ever – Lost my COBRA Coverage

Today has been very close to one of the worst days of my life.  Why is it one of the worst days ever?  I went online to make a payment for my COBRA coverage for the month of September which is due by September 30.  When I went to pay the bill it said that I didn’t have a balance due.  I thought that was pretty strange, so I started clicking out.  I found a section that lists letters that are sent to me and found one that had the word “Termination” in it.

Before I opened it, I already had a bad feeling in my stomach.  I opened the letter, that I never saw because it was sent to a mailing address that I no longer use.  My payment for the month of August was not paid, so they cancelled my coverage!  What? How? That’s impossible, I paid it.

Frantically, I made a phone call to COBRA to get some sort of explanation for this because I know that I made a payment last month.  The explanation was that a routing number was incorrect in the online billing when I made the payment last month.  The payment processed online and gave me a confirmation number, however, when it went to process on the backend, it was declined.  So, a phone call would be made to me to tell me right?  NOPE!

A letter sent to me, to an address that I no longer get mail at. It has a forwarding address on it, but not all mail is forwarded correctly. So, I went the rest of the month not even knowing that the payment was not processed.  One little mistake, leads to something that will 100% completely change my life.

I have had diabetes for almost 9 years now, and I have been 100% fully ensured for every single day of it.  How am I going to buy my insulin, pump supplies test strips?  I have no idea where to even begin with this.  I don’t really have any options at all, but to make every payment out of pocket.  I guess it’s good that I do own my own business so I can “control” how much money I make.  I just have to take on more clients, more work, more hours, and more money just to break even on supplies.

I submitted a request that they re-consider and reinstate my coverage.  They said it would take about 3-5 days.  I received a response in 20 minutes, and the response was…. still declined.  I was not shocked or surprised by this.  If they are legally able to cancel a policy of somebody with a pre-existing condition, why would they then re-instate it?  They got rid of me, they sure won’t bring me back.

I have not heard back on the reply of the second request, but they said it most likely would not be until this Friday, so I have to begin planning for the worst.  I asked a representative on the phone and one was very blunt with me and told me straight it, a re-instatement does not happen often, he’s seen it before, but it’s not likely.

That is how I began my day.  I started it with going online to pay my insurance so I can re-order my insulin because I will be out by next week.  Let’s hope I can get more of those Apidra samples from my endo.

I appreciate all of the messages and replies that you all have sent out on Twitter, it really means a lot that y’all care.

I can only hope for the best for now.

photo credit: Mike Licht, via photopin cc

20 thoughts to “Worst Day Ever – Lost my COBRA Coverage”

  1. I used to work for a third party administrator who administered COBRA for 270+ companies. Ultimately the decision to reinstate or not is your former employer’s decision. You may wish to reach out to someone there on the benefits team who you can share your case with.

    The address situation might be a moot point to try to fight since it is technically your responsibility to keep them updated of any changes after you sign up for continuation coverage under the law of COBRA.

    However, the fact that you had received confirmation of payment should be considered.

    I hope it all works out for you.

    1. Jen – thanks for this tip. I will reach out to my former employer. I left on good terms, so I don’t see a reason why they would deny it or choose to terminate, so that could definitely be an avenue that I can pursue.

      I appreciate it.

    1. Jeff – this is also a great idea. I’ve spoken with my local officials previously about some diabetes related issues, so I will definitely make this a priority.

  2. Chris – I’m SO SORRY this happened to you – Something similar happened with my cobra benefits 12 years ago.
    You were given a confirmation number, so that should count for something.
    Call the ADA 1-800-514-0301
    I’d also call your local news station up because what they did was wrong. It’s an election year, I bet you could get the story covered!

    In the meantime, get new coverage ASAP whether they reinstate you or not so you can start checking off the months until your diabetes supplies is covered.

    1. Kelly – I was thinking about contacting the ADA in regards to the legal aspect of things. To me, it just doesn’t seem legal, but they have told me that it is in the terms and conditions of COBRA, that if you are late for a payment then they can “suspend or terminate”. I don’t know what the suspend term means, but I truly feel that if I didn’t have a pre-existing condition, then they would not terminate. Just my opinion.

    1. Jen – thank you for your kindness and willingness to help out. I luckily have insulin for now and can get a few samples from my endo. Worst case scenario I can pay out of pocket, but obviously that is not the path that I want to take.

  3. If you have a Democratic US Senator or Representative, you need to call his/her office. Dems are really working to improve this system & have a vested interest in fixing problems like this with the election coming up. Seriously, start at the top. You just can’t lose your coverage this way! I think there is a problem getting insurance again if you have a lapse in coverage?? Keep fighting to get it reinstated. You might even check with a lawyer. That could be worthwhile, compared to being uninsured.

    1. Sarah – I am formulating a list of contacts at all of the state of florida officials right now and sending their way. They can work wonders a month before election time.

  4. I was 6 weeks away from delivering my first baby and it was Christmas week. We received a letter saying my coverage was dropped retroactively all the way back to our enrollment period in October and that our company would be retracting payments paid to over 8 providers to the tune of $10K. They claimed to have sent a letter in early November asking for our marriage certificate and said that we never responded. We never received said letter (why would I have ignored it?).

    We immediately got in touch with an attorney. Just the threat of (and a phone call) from my attorney had them backpedalling. I strongly encourage you to contact an attorney to discuss your rights. Consultation is generally free.

    Also, check to see if you’re eligible for your state’s high risk pool insurance (if you have one) and apply immediately. If everything works out with your COBRA, you won’t need it, but it could keep you from experiencing a lapse in coverage.

  5. This is incredibly horrible – I’m so sorry, Chris. I concur with what others have said, about confirming payment via your bank, establishing a paper trail, bringing this to attention of your former employer for possible. And maybe even contacting insurance commissioner in FL. Good luck, man.

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