Covered California: The COBRA Glitch

Screenshot from, the website of Covered California.

Screenshot from, the website of Covered California.

UPDATE: On May 15, 2014, Covered California announced a special two-month enrollment period for people on COBRA who want to switch to a Covered California plan.

“Forgive me for intruding upon your personal email,” Jill Bond wrote me earlier this month.

Bond emailed that she had heard me on KQED’s “Forum” discussing Covered California, and then when a post from me popped up on our neighborhood listserv, she put two and two together and reached out for help. In the months since the Covered California marketplace opened, I have fielded a lot of inquiries from friends and colleagues. I emailed Bond back right away.

Even if you have COBRA now, the only way to enroll in a plan with a subsidy is to say you don’t.

Bond told me she had enrolled in a Covered California plan but didn’t understand where her subsidy was. When she had reviewed her options for Covered California, the “shop and compare” calculator indicated that she qualified for a subsidy — close to $300 — but when she actually enrolled, the subsidy was not applied.

And Bond definitely needs the coverage. In 2010, Bond was treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. While she’s cancer-free now, the aggressive chemotherapy damaged her immune system. She says she needs monthly infusions of antibodies to keep her healthy. The treatment is called IVIG, and it costs a small fortune — more than $8,000 a month, Bond said. Continue reading

Swapping COBRA For Obamacare Likely A Windfall For Big Business And Consumers

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Jay Hancock, Kaiser Health News

Health-law provisions taking effect next year could save U.S. employers billions of dollars in expenses now paid for workers who continue medical coverage after they leave the company, benefits experts say.

Insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act are expected to all but replace COBRA coverage in which ex-employees and dependents can remain on the company plan if they pay the premiums.

Offered a choice between heavily subsidized coverage under Obamacare or paying full price with COBRA “most people are going to choose the exchange.”

“As soon as the law was passed, the question among employers and benefits people was: Is there still going to be a reason for COBRA?” said Steve Wojcik,  vice president of public policy for the National Business Group on Health, an employer group. Offered a choice between heavily subsidized coverage in the health act’s insurance exchanges or paying full price under COBRA, he said, “most people are going to choose the exchange.”

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, known as COBRA and intended to furnish coverage between jobs, is a burden for employers as well as participants. Continue reading