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Poof… there goes the Health Insurance…


I received a letter of healthcare cancellation for my husband this weekend. His benefits run out at the end of the month.

I expected his benefits to expire but I did not expect the high cost to maintain his health insurance through COBRA. We’re looking at $250 a month for an active healthy guy who hasn’t been to the hospital for a medical reason since birth.

This expense isn’t an option for us. It’s either healthcare or our mortgage payment and since healthcare won’t keep us sheltered at night… it lost.

In light of this, I have restricted him from doing anything dangerous. He is officially banned from riding a dirt bike, surfing near sharks, standing on ladders, and clipping his toe nails. I have also encased him in bubble wrap and tied large sofa cushions to his stomach.

I think it will work.


  • Reply brooklynchick |

    I believe there is a federal subsidy that will pay 65% of your COBRA costs (that’s what I’ve been told by my HR folks). If you could get a subsidy maybe you can hang on to your coverage??

  • Reply Maria |

    Beks: I’m sure you’ve considered all your options, but I’ll ask anyway: could you add him to your policy? is he eligible for the new COBRA subsidy? is there anything in your budget that you could reduce/eliminate so he could pay the $250 per month? Even though he sounds young and healthy, going without health insurance just exposes your family to the added risk that an illness/accident could push you into bankruptcy. Good luck with this–things WILL improve!

  • Reply John DeFlumeri Jr |

    Be careful about being uninsured, it just takes one trajedy to bankrupt a family.

  • Reply Susan |

    Since your husband’s unemployment is a life change, you should be able to add him to your insurance at your job. You really don’t want to go without coverage. That is really tempting fate.

  • Reply Bucksome |

    I know it’s a hard decision, but I’m with John.

    However, if we had to decide between the mortgage and insurance our decision would be the same as yours. I hope the subsidy works out.

  • Reply Financial Samurai |

    Oh no! You’re funny though on all those bans 🙂 What about watching sports on TV?

    I just wrote about insurance today, and how everyone needs to get an Umbrella policy, so I guess i’m going the wrong way with your post.

    $250 sounds like a lot, but how much does that compare to what your husband was paying through his pay check? That’s the relative calculation to compare, even though there is no more pay check. 🙁

  • Reply Michelle |

    Hey Beks – here’s my two cents. Before we were married, my husband went about six months or so without health insurance. So it can be done – but he also had an emergency fund that could have covered something like a broken arm (and he had his appendix removed three years prior to this, so it’s not like we had to worry about that.)

    I was able to find an independent insurance policy when I first started my current job (they would reimburse $100 of my policy) and I found a bare bones one that was a little more than $100 a month. Also, I think Blue Cross Blue Shield offers one called “Simply Blue” that is also relatively inexpensive.

    Although getting married was the happiest day of my life for other reasons, I was really relieved when my hubby went on my insurance policy – all it takes is one careless driver to T-Bone your hubby at an intersection and you guys could be in a worse financial place. Really, really think about it – you’ve made such great progress. Maybe take some of that money from your odd jobs to throw towards an insurance plan.

  • Reply Gwen |

    As others have said, all it takes is one unexpected incident to set you behind for years. I was uninsured for most of my early 20s, and I was insanely lucky not to have anything happen during that time. I was only on my insurance plan about 3 months before I separated my shoulder and needed an ER visit, orthopedic doc, and physical therapy. Without insurance, my choice would have been between never regaining full use of my shoulder or filing bankruptcy because I sought treatment.

    Is he a member of any sports or professional groups that might offer a group plan? One I looked into for myself was about $90/month. It wasn’t great for someone who might need a lot of office visits or meds, but wouldn’t leave me questioning whether or not I could afford an ER visit in case of an accident.

  • Reply Dogfood Provider |

    For what it’s worth, here is the Department of Labor’s website about COBRA Continuation Coverage: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/cobra.html.

  • Reply Leslie |

    Don’t decline the COBRA yet. You have 60 days from the date of the loss of coverage to elect. And from there, 45 days from the date of election to pay any current and previous premiums due. That does give you some wiggle room to find other coverage.
    If you have a group plan through your employer, you have the right under HIPAA to add him to your plan within 30 days of the loss of coverage date. Loss of employment is a life event.
    Explore an indivdual policy or at the very least an individual major medical policy that could kick in in the case of a catastrophic medical event.
    Good luck!

  • Reply Jean |

    I’m echoing everyone else’s comments – explore your options (putting him on your insurance, COBRA subsidy, cheap major medical). I paid around $100/month for major medical coverage when I changed jobs & wasn’t eligible for health coverage w/the new company for 90 days – of course, I was employed then (had the cash) and healthy, but still didn’t want to take any chances. You’re doing all of the right things, so hope this is a short-lived situation. Hang in there!

  • Reply Nicole |

    Open enrollment is coming soon! Just make sure he stays out of trouble until you can add him on to your insurance at work! : )

  • Reply Dayna |

    When my husband lost his job last spring, COBRA wasn’t an option because of his idiotic former employer. Since I was on his insurance also and I’m not able to get insurance through my job, we contacted our insurance guy who connected us with a temporary emergency health insurance policy. It covered both of us for $150/month. We never needed it while he was employed, but it sure made me feel better knowing it was there. Fortunately, he is has a job now but our insurance options are still expensive and frustrating. BUT I’m glad we have it!

  • Reply Janelle |

    Yeah we were in that situation about 4 years ago when we had a layoff. For our family of 6 the COBRA was going to be like $1100 a month. Not even an option! We were fine during the layoff which was about 6 months until my husband found a new job. Now the bummer was his new employer had a 3 month waiting period on the insurance. My gal bladder decided 2 weeks before we’d have insurance to nearly burst. I ended up having emergency surgery, complications, a 2nd surgery and 4 days in the hospital. Not good. But it didn’t bankrupt us. We have about $9,000 left to pay on that $35,000 tab. Hope to have it paid off within the next 2 years. Pray that doesn’t happen to you, and maybe you can qualify for the government assistance for COBRA payments.

  • Reply mem |

    You can go online and get what’s essentially emergency health insurance for very little money. It won’t cover day-to-day stuff, but it will prevent you from going bankrupt in a catastrophe. There’s always a very high deductible (maybe $5000) and routine things aren’t covered, but it will keep you from going broke if you end up in the hospital with a major injury.

  • Reply creditcardfree |

    I’m going to agree with Leslie…don’t decline COBRA yet because you have time to sign up and in the meantime your husband could find a job with benefits…but no out of pocket costs to you. At least keep the option open. My friend’s doctor suggested this when they were faced with high COBRA payments a few years ago.

  • Reply HS |

    Enough of the pity party!! ok we are sorry your husband lost his job but quit complaining and get creative, find ways to make new income and paying for cobra.


  • Reply Marlene |

    Are you accounting for the subsidy to pay cobra in the $200 figure. I echo the sentiment not to do without insurance. If your husband is healthy, non-smoker he should be able to get a less expensive policy or a plan that covers just hospital costs. A long stay in the hospital is expensive.

  • Reply Nicole |

    Hey HS, if you’ve been reading that’s exactly what Beks is doing! I guess you’re a skimmer and you take what you want and miss the important stuff!!

  • Reply MT |

    You are eligible for the COBRA subsidy if you get laid off until December of this year. It really is at a 65% discount. Don’t decline yet, the next paperwork may let you choose medical only if you had been previously paying for a package (medical, dental, and vision) and that is how I scraped by. I hope it works for you. You get nine months at the discounted rate.

  • Reply momstheword |

    Oh yeah, clipping toenails can be dangerous, lol! Loved that, you’re funny!

    Yes, Cobra is expensive, I remember that from when my husband was out of work so long. Your hubby sounds like mine, he never seems to need to go to the doctor as he rarely gets sick (except for the occasional cold).

  • Reply E.D. |

    If you have insurance through work, his unemployment definitely counts as a life event. If for some reason that doesn’t work, you should be able to purchase a short-term catastrophic policy for less than $100/month. I had to do this because I had a short lapse in coverage after grad school and before my job. I think I paid about $85 for two weeks of coverage (periods under a month were a bit more per week).

  • Reply Cassie |

    $250 is a crazy amount for someone who is so healthy! Are you sure you can’t get ANY kind of policy for less than that? It would be very sad to see something happen and you don’t have coverage. It’s always good to be prepared!

  • Reply amy |

    Check on the Cobra subsidy as others have
    suggested. Do whatever it takes to continue
    his coverage. An accident or unexpected surgery
    will add to financial worries and make things
    worse. Also, if he should become ill with some
    sort of chronic illness, a lapse in coverage
    is a problem with some insurances. If, for
    example he finds a job in a few months that
    offers health insurance, some companies do not
    cover pre existing conditions for a year if
    you have had a lapse in coverage. This can get
    mighty expensive.

  • Reply My Frugal Miser |

    Look at ARRA (Obama’s subsidized COBRA). I was forced to resign from my job and my company has agreed not to protest my application for it. It is 65% off that $250 you would otherwise pay, so should be less than $100 per month. Not wise to go without health insurance. My best friend changed jobs and his new job required him to be employed 90 days before insurance kicked in. We went to Vegas in August and, guess what? He got “acute pancreatitis” and landed in the hospital…literally, the paramedics came aboard out plane when we returned home and took him off in a stretcher. That was a miserable 4 hour flight. His total bill was $21,000.

  • Reply Didi |

    holy crap! I’m with “me”… thank GOD I’m in Canada with universal health care!! Seriously, all your posts really scare me. Beks, find a way to pay for that coverage… I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing that I wasn’t covered.. $21,000/$35,000!!! WOW.

  • Reply Mary |

    I’ve been without health insurance for most of the past 5 years (except when I ran my business AND worked full time as an engineer, at which time I probably needed the insurance when I dropped from exhaustion…)

    It can be done – You just get used to using med centers rather than a GP, and I’m a generally healthy person anyway.

    Don’t freak out over something like this – he’ll probably have a new job within a few months again anyway.

  • Reply Mary |

    Oh, and for the past 5 years – nothing more serious for me than a sore throat now and then – I eat healthy, wash my hands a lot, and keep up with preventative exams (medical, optical and dental) that I just pay for out of pocket. When my dentist heard I was without insurance, he only charged me $50 for a cleaning rather than the standard $120. And don’t be afraid to ask your dr. or dentist for a discount if you pay with cash -most will cut you a break.

  • Reply Gen |

    Hi Beks,

    You probably already have this advice, but in case you don’t, here are my two cents: I was laid off earlier this year and if you have insurance at the time of the layoff, you are eligible for COBRA. Currently the gov’t pays 65 percent of the cost for the first nine months. For me, it ended up being the same amount I was paying to my company for health insurance – about $150 a month, and it includes dental. At the very least, your husband should be able to get health insurance through school, or a very high deductible plan for under $100 a month. You really just need it in the event he is in accident, or develops something like cancer. (That is why those emergency only plans are not recommended. Lengthy illnesses can also bankrupt you.) It is possible to pull yourself out of a $50K hole one day, but a $1 million hole? Impossibly.

    I would go to eating beans before I gave up basic health insurance.

  • Reply J. |

    I lost my job and recieved info about COBRA and the subsidy offered by the federal government. They assumed I qualified and didn’t have to do anything for it. It’s good for 9 months.

    I strongly recommend getting health insurance, even if it’s just catastrophic care. I too was a healthy (relatively) guy in my 30’s when I had to have a major surgery to replace my aortic valve.

    It was a genetic condition that wasn’t supposed to happen for another 20 years but it happened now. Thank God I had health insurance then. The whole thing cost me less than $1000 out of pocket. Insurance is almost as valuable as shelter and worth cutting other things out. You never know what’s going to happen.

So, what do you think ?