Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

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Meg77
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Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Meg77 »

My husband just switched jobs, and we won't qualify for his new health insurance until September 1st. His termination date was officially June 26th, and we have 60 days to activate COBRA to keep his former health insurance active.

Technically we are without health insurance currently, but if any sudden medical needs arise between now and August 25th, we can apply for COBRA and (if my understanding is correct) coverage would be retroactive from the termination date. We wish to avoid this if possible since the premium is nearly $1000 per month.

However, we will be fully without medical coverage between August 26th and September first if we don't take action. As healthy 30-somethings, we are debating taking the risk and going for those five days without health coverage. We would obviously minimize driving and other potentially risky activities (2 of which are weekend days).

I vacillate between thinking that it's a crazy risk to take and that it's crazy to be worried about 5 days without insurance. On one hand, millions of people in this country go without it and are (in general, at least on a daily basis) just fine. Then again if one of us happens to have a stroke or major accident we could be out tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Perhaps there is some cheap, short term, catastrophic coverage option that we could get as an alternative? I'm not sure those exist anymore now that the Affordable Care Act has taken effect.

What would you do?
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White Coat Investor
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by White Coat Investor »

Yes, activate Cobra retroactively if you get sick or hurt. Nice little loophole that.
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Keiser2015
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Keiser2015 »

Would your car insurance pay your medical bills if you got in a car accident?
Matt48Ritchie
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Matt48Ritchie »

Hmm. I personally would risk it and go without the health insurance for 5 days.
bloom2708
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by bloom2708 »

We are in a similar scenario. My coverage starts Monday July 20th. We decided to only activate COBRA if we had a major incident in the 20 days we have been in a non-coverage situation between jobs. I think you will be fine using a wait and see approach.
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icefr
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by icefr »

Are you employed? Can you jump on your health insurance for the next few months? Your husband leaving his job should be a qualifying life change event for you to be able to enroll in your health insurance.
icefr
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by icefr »

Also, do you know when the exact date that his health insurance ends? I left my previous job in early January and my health insurance didn't end until the 31st of January.
jeff1949
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by jeff1949 »

Matt48Ritchie wrote:Hmm. I personally would risk it and go without the health insurance for 5 days.
I agree and I am over 60 years old.
JDot
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by JDot »

Deleted because I completely failed to read OP's posting carefully.
Last edited by JDot on Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

icefr wrote:Are you employed? Can you jump on your health insurance for the next few months? Your husband leaving his job should be a qualifying life change event for you to be able to enroll in your health insurance.
^ This. Ever get admitted to a hospital through the ER? It will cost you $1,000 plus for that. Emergency appendicitis? - it will run you multiple 1,000's. Going without insurance is a crap-shoot, I am healthy, but then developed very expensive kidney stones - that required me to get admitted to an ER and 2 day stay in a hospital - the bill for that was over $8 grand, WITH insurance. You have assets, lots of assets, yes, $1K is a lot of money, but it's trivial compared to your portfolio.
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basspond
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by basspond »

You should be asking Murphy. I hope your 4th of July vacation was worth your added grief now. I wouldn't risk it and plan a little better the next job switch. Have a friend's relative who was in-between jobs, got in a bad wreck and their medical bills were over $500k.
sport
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by sport »

Meg77 wrote:His termination date was officially June 26th, and we have 60 days to activate COBRA to keep his former health insurance active.
June 26 was the termination date of employment. What was the termination date of his health insurance?
Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

bloom2708 wrote:We are in a similar scenario. My coverage starts Monday July 20th. We decided to only activate COBRA if we had a major incident in the 20 days we have been in a non-coverage situation between jobs. I think you will be fine using a wait and see approach.
I think you are mis-reading Meg's post - she is saying her husband terminated on June 26th, Cobra can only be activated by August 26th, leaving them with a 5 day window of ZERO insurance unless she activates on August 26th at the latest. If she fails to activate on August 26th, she can not just activate it on August 29th, if say something befalls her husband on the golf course while swinging the club he develops a sharp pain in his chest. She will be without health insurance for 5 days.
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Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

sport wrote:
Meg77 wrote:His termination date was officially June 26th, and we have 60 days to activate COBRA to keep his former health insurance active.
June 26 was the termination date of employment. What was the termination date of his health insurance?
^ Same day - June 26th.
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sawhorse
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by sawhorse »

When I've been on COBRA and then canceled due to new coverage, I got a prorated refund for that month. So if you paid for 30 days, you'd get a refund for 25 days.

I've also seen some places sell short term insurance but I'm not sure it was that short.

Edit: This page says that you have 45 days after signing up for COBRA to pay the premium, and if you don't use the insurance during those 45 days you can just not pay the premium thus canceling your COBRA before you ever needed it.

http://www.nextavenue.org/getting-healt ... ween-jobs/
Last edited by sawhorse on Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
JDot
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by JDot »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
bloom2708 wrote:We are in a similar scenario. My coverage starts Monday July 20th. We decided to only activate COBRA if we had a major incident in the 20 days we have been in a non-coverage situation between jobs. I think you will be fine using a wait and see approach.
I think you are mis-reading Meg's post - she is saying her husband terminated on June 26th, Cobra can only be activated by August 26th, leaving them with a 5 day window of ZERO insurance unless she activates on August 26th at the latest. If she fails to activate on August 26th, she can not just activate it on August 29th, if say something befalls her husband on the golf course while swinging the club he develops a sharp pain in his chest. She will be without health insurance for 5 days.
You are correct. I completely misread her post. I skimmed it and then skimmed the response about falling back on Cobra. My apologies.
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sunny_socal
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by sunny_socal »

Stay at home and watch movies for 5 days. Don't break any bones :beer
Carson
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Carson »

deleted
Last edited by Carson on Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Meg77
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Meg77 »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
icefr wrote:Are you employed? Can you jump on your health insurance for the next few months? Your husband leaving his job should be a qualifying life change event for you to be able to enroll in your health insurance.
^ This. Ever get admitted to a hospital through the ER? It will cost you $1,000 plus for that. Emergency appendicitis? - it will run you multiple 1,000's. Going without insurance is a crap-shoot, I am healthy, but then developed very expensive kidney stones - that required me to get admitted to an ER and 2 day stay in a hospital - the bill for that was over $8 grand, WITH insurance. You have assets, lots of assets, yes, $1K is a lot of money, but it's trivial compared to your portfolio.
This isn't an option because if I enroll in my company's health care plan then I can't UNenroll until the next enrollment cycle. I'd be on it through year end and we'd be double insured since my husband already enrolled in his new plan for us both (it's better, cheaper, and has access to an HSA which my plan does not). I'm not even sure being double insured is allowed on his plan or mine; some plans now don't even let your spouse enroll if he/she has access to their own plan at another employer.

And for the record it would be at least $2000 if not $3000 premium to get us through August 31st. We'd have to pay for July and August if we extend coverage through COBRA.
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Carson
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Carson »

My initial reaction is yes, but it really isn't that great of an idea. Do you have kids?

Even being fit and healthy 30-somethings ourselves, we've had our fair share of emergency surprises: DH had an emergency appendectomy (no warning signs, and could NOT have waited 5 days for coverage to kick in) and DS broke his femur just playing like 2-year olds play. On the auto front, we self-insured ourselves for one 'test' trip around the block with an antique vehicle and wound up paying thousands of dollars in damage. Sucked.

So bottom line, I would explore the idea of a temporary/catastrophic kind of policy, if there's anything like that out there. Or maybe you should get traveller's insurance and take a trip that covers medical :D

ETA - now that you have clarified about your job. Both your DH LOSING (now) and subsequently GAINING insurance coverage for your family are qualifying life events. Even though it would take some admin time for your employer, you could get coverage now and then drop it when his new coverage kicks in.
Last edited by Carson on Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:26 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee »

Hi Meg,

How certain are you the health insurance from his new job will start on his first day? Probably it does, but at some employers not. It's worth checking, and it may change the COBRA calculus.

How certain are you the new employer won't reschedule his first day? An old employer of mine did that, by three weeks if I recall correctly, for a couple of new hires, not because we were in any sort of financial trouble, but because my whole division was focusing on the biggest opportunity the company had ever had in Asia. It was a strategic customer (one whose business would likely land us more customers there), and nobody could spare any time to work with a new person. A delay could happen for any reason or no discernible reason.

At the very least I'd visit your state's or the federal health insurance exchange to price a bronze plan for one month, to protect you in the unlikely event something very bad happens during the five days in question. It's probably cheaper than COBRA. I wouldn't worry about being able to get my no-additional-charge colonoscopy during the five days, or having my choice of dermatologists, but I would worry about losing all my unprotected assets.

Hope that helps you think things through.

PJW
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by spectec »

Going without insurance will either be a smart financial move or potentially the worst financial mistake you've ever made.
You won't know for sure until day 6.
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Meg77
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Meg77 »

sunny_socal wrote:Stay at home and watch movies for 5 days. Don't break any bones :beer
This was literally my thought - that it would be cheaper to take off work and not even leave the house and enjoy lots of safe activities like catching up on all our shows!

Both our commutes are super short anyway and don't involve having to get on major roads/highways, so driving risk is minimal. We'd be insuring against the really unlikely catastrophic stuff - breaking a major bone falling down the stairs, appendicitis, a random stroke or seizure, etc. Obviously the odds are super slim that we'd encounter anything like that which would have to be addressed immediately during the 5 days we happen to be uninsured...but it's not impossible.

Ugh so annoying. COBRA is unnecessary though - I would look into alternate much cheaper coverage, assuming it exists. If anybody has any ideas on providers let me know!
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Meg77
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Meg77 »

Phineas J. Whoopee wrote:Hi Meg,

How certain are you the health insurance from his new job will start on his first day? Probably it does, but at some employers not. It's worth checking, and it may change the COBRA calculus.

How certain are you the new employer won't reschedule his first day? An old employer of mine did that, by three weeks if I recall correctly, for a couple of new hires, not because we were in any sort of financial trouble, but because my whole division was focusing on the biggest opportunity the company had ever had in Asia. It was a strategic customer (one whose business would likely land us more customers there), and nobody could spare any time to work with a new person. A delay could happen for any reason or no discernible reason.

At the very least I'd visit your state's or the federal health insurance exchange to price a bronze plan for one month, to protect you in the unlikely event something very bad happens during the five days in question. It's probably cheaper than COBRA. I wouldn't worry about being able to get my no-additional-charge colonoscopy during the five days, or having my choice of dermatologists, but I would worry about losing all my unprotected assets.

Hope that helps you think things through.

PJW
Thanks, but he has already started. He just isn't eligible for health care until the first day of the month following his first full month of service. He's confirmed with HR that it will be activated Sept 1. Good idea checking the federal site just to see.
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sawhorse
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by sawhorse »

Meg77 wrote:Ugh so annoying. COBRA is unnecessary though - I would look into alternate much cheaper coverage, assuming it exists. If anybody has any ideas on providers let me know!
Why not do the 45 day loophole that I linked to above?
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Leesbro63 »

The problem is that it's like fire insurance for your house. The odds of it burning down are slim, but the consequences are huge. I'd probably try to find some sort of ACA plan that has the biggest out of pocket but smallest premium. Even if just for 1 month.
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Meg77
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Meg77 »

sawhorse wrote:
Meg77 wrote:Ugh so annoying. COBRA is unnecessary though - I would look into alternate much cheaper coverage, assuming it exists. If anybody has any ideas on providers let me know!
Why not do the 45 day loophole that I linked to above?
Somehow I missed your post but thank you so much for pointing it out!!! Looks like Bogleheads saves the day again. :sharebeer

I'm going to verify the info in that article, but it seems legit. And if so, that solves our problem. To summarize: you have 60 days to ELECT cobra coverage - but then you have ANOTHER 45 days after election in which the premium is due. If you don't pay, the application is just canceled. The way the article is written indicates that this actually turns your 60 day cobra loophole into a 105 day loophole. Very sweet deal.

I can't thank you enough for this info. This is why I come here first whenever questions arise. :)
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stlutz
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by stlutz »

Would a travel insurance policy work?
mptness
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by mptness »

Meg77 wrote:Perhaps there is some cheap, short term, catastrophic coverage option that we could get as an alternative? I'm not sure those exist anymore now that the Affordable Care Act has taken effect.
If the 45 day delay does not work, I think these policies still exist at least in my state. Google temporary insurance. I did high deductible month to month for my son (young and in good health) at one point to cover a gap. Very inexpensive. Might not comply with ACA, but neither does going without. Although in your case I believe you are exempt from the individual mandate penalty.
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Tallulah »

I was in the situation a couple of years ago. I got temporary "gap" insurance through Humana. I needed it for only a couple of weeks, but went ahead and bought 2 months of insurance just in case I ended up in the hospital during those two weeks for what would become a lengthy stay.

It was quite cheap -- only about $200.
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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee »

^^ I'm pretty sure it's illegal for any health insurance plan in the United States to fail to comply with the ACA, including its provision for grandfathered plans, to the extent any private insurance company chooses, for its own profit, to to continue to offer them, and to the extent its pre-existing customers choose to keep paying for it.

The travel health insurance point is an interesting one. I've bought several over the years, but they only covered me from the time I locked my front door on the way to the train station to the time I unlocked it coming home.

My (of course) ACA-compliant plan today covers emergency service anywhere in the country, and has one nationwide urgent-care network and one pharmacy chain which, if I use them, are covered anywhere within the United States. It also includes access to bona fide physicians by phone at any time on any day, and as long as I'm willing to pay the phone charge it doesn't matter where I am.

I don't think I can travel out of area and get my flu shot at no additional charge, though.

PJW
sawhorse
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by sawhorse »

When I was on COBRA there was an administrative fee which I think was 1.5%. If you do the 45 day thing, you might still have to pay that. It'll be a small amount. My most recent employer didn't charge it (or maybe it's built into the premium and not itemized separately on the bill?) but an earlier one did.
Last edited by sawhorse on Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Goal33
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Re: Should we go without Health Insurance for 5 Days?

Post by Goal33 »

If you have any assets to lose I don't see why you would take a risk on something of such minimal cost.
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