Re: [MOL] DIANE - insurance question [00561] Medicine On Line

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Re: [MOL] DIANE - insurance question

Hi Diane,

An insurance response from a different Kathy.  I spent several years in the 
Human Resources field and this is what I know about changing insurances (at 
least in California).  

You usually have the option when you leave a company of converting your 
current plan for a period of time (usually 18 months) under the C.O.B.R.A. 
law.  When you do this you have to pay 100% of the premium.  Although you do 
pay 100% of the premium, the good news is you stay at whatever the group rate 
is that your employer had negotiated with the carrier.  So often it's cheaper 
than it would be if you had to negotiate a comparable individual policy.

This can work as a bridge for you while you are securing the next insurance 
plan to be sure any cancer treatments are covered.

About the new insurance.  Often HMO's don't have pre-existing condition 
exclusions, so that's one thing to check with a new employer.  Even if an HMO 
isn't your first choice, often if you start on the HMO you can switch to a 
different plan at your company's "open enrollment" period and not be saddled 
with any pre-existing condition exclusions.  If an HMO is not an option, a 
common thing is the insurance company will cover you but exclude coverage for 
the pre-existing condintion until either a certain amount of time has passed, 
or a certain amount of time treatment free has passed.  That depends on the 
health plan.   In this case, by continuing under COBRA your treatments are 
covered while you're waiting for the pre-existing condition time exclusion 
period to pass.  It's an expensive choice, but maybe cheaper in the long run 
than having to pay out of pocket.  That's a call you'd have to make.

Even though it's totally illegal, some smaller companies might let a 
pre-existing condition influence their hiring decision.  For this reason, I 
recommend that you ask a prospective employer for the contact number for 
their insurance company(s) and ask your questions directly and anonymously.  
If the HR person is curious, you can just tell them you want to compare 
policies as you make the decision whether or not to give up your C.O.B.R.A 
policy with the other company.  After all, it's the truth.

My company never allowed a pre-existing condition influence a hiring 
decision, but those we hired told me some disheartening stories about other 
employers.  So I say better safe than sorry.

Hope this helps!

Your friend, Kathy Q.

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