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Covered California Q&A

Covered California and Obamacare related questions from consumers, employers and agents are answered by Phil Daigle with the best information available at the time. Archived entries may no longer be accurate as the Covered California and Obamacare knowledge-base is evolving quickly. TO REQUEST A PERSONAL RESPONSE INCLUDE EMAIL ADDRESS.

Individual Health Insurance or COBRA?

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Question: I am planning to retire soon. I been with the same company and on the same insurance plan for 25 years. Can I change my insurance from a company group coverage to an individual coverage. I was told recently that I could not. Can you help.

*Answer: * When you retire (assuming you are not yet 65), you’ll be offered COBRA health insurance. It’s the same coverage you had on the group plan but your employer will no longer be paying for it. It usually comes as a shock to most people when they find out just how much the full premium is. You can stay on COBRA for up to 18 months. Alternatively, you can decide to apply for individual health insurance instead of COBRA. Unlike COBRA, you may choose coverage that’s in line with your budget. Here’s the big obstacle - you must pass the stringent underwriting guidelines to qualify for individual health insurance. It’s been my experience that people of retirement age very often fail to qualify for individual coverage.

One way or another, if you can make it to January 2014, when the guaranteed issue and community rating provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) take affect, you will no longer have to worry about preexisting conditions. You will be able to purchase individual health insurance coverage at the same rate as everyone else in your age and ZIP code demographic. In addition, you may qualify for a federal subsidy that will pay some of your premium. So do what you have to do to get through the next few months. Things will get better.

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