Monday, October 19, 2009

Our new health plan choice: bleed me now or bleed me later

If I still had hair, we've got some health plan choices coming up that would have me pulling it out about now. Our premiums for COBRA medical coverage, which have been softened for the last year by my severance benefits and federal stimulus money, are scheduled to jump just north of $1,057 a month after Thanksgiving.

We can't afford that. We can't afford not to be covered either. According to some recent research by the Kellogg School of Management, one good whack by a medical calamity puts maybe 50 percent of our savings at risk.

COBRA, which originally was created to provide stop-gap insurance for workers between jobs, gets hairier when jobs are really scarce. The paperwork is often a mess, says, which offers tips for dealing with some of the most frequent challenges. And for unknown numbers of unlucky job hunters, their former employers' upcoming open enrollment periods may jack the job hunters' premiums around in ways that few of us have imagined before, writes Chicago attorney Andy Anderson. Growing numbers of us already are looking for private insurance to replace COBRA coverage, says, a California advocacy website.

More workers worry about financial security than their medical plans, insurance giant Prudential reported last week. But in real life, that often isn't an either/or question.

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