To Insure or Not to Insure
I now find myself in a unique position, one I never thought I would ever find myself in. I don't have health insurance. I had to switch companies after some unethical behavior on the part of a previous employer. That was easy enough. The problem is my health insurance won't begin until the first of next month. So I face the dilemma of deciding whether or not to COBRA my coverage.
I always thought this was a simple question. I never understood why anyone wouldn't choose to continue coverage given the option. I have always believed you must have health insurance of some kind. What if something happened? What if you need to buy medicine or go to the doctor? You must have insurance.
I'm now getting a dose of reality like some of my patients have experienced. COBRA coverage is very expensive. I'm looking at well over $400 a month. The law states I'm only eligible for the same coverage I had as an employee. If a cheaper version exists, I can't select it. Due to the switch in companies, I'm not working consistently. Four hundred dollars is a huge chunk of change for my limited budget. Ironically that should resolve about the time I'm able to begin my new coverage.
I now understand how someone could choose not to continue coverage. I can console myself that at worst I'm looking at a month. I've already gone through my savings, so that isn't much of an option. At least I had savings. I can't imagine how someone manages without that, or who has children. Nor can I imagine how much COBRA costs when dependents are included.
If I take the COBRA, I'll pay more for one month of insurance for myself than for a year to insure one of my horses. I have a friend who prefers to COBRA her insurance so she can earn PRN wages. I'm not sure she is coming out ahead. How do people make this decision? I'm not talking about those who simply choose not to have insurance. I mean those who must choose between insurance and something else.
Obviously some people must be forced to make a bad choice for good reasons. I wish I knew where to look for the statistics on this. I would love to know how many Americans are choosing not to COBRA benefits and why. I assume cost is the reason. I would also like to know how many of them pay the price.