Health Insurance Coverage

This is the one area where we threw caution to the wind and embraced the fear of the unknown. We decided to relocate without any assurance that I would be able to obtain health insurance coverage.
And that fear turned out to have been justified.
Fortunately, we were able to mitigate our risk because I was able to retain coverage through COBRA. The problem with COBRA is that it is very expensive and lasts only 18 months.
We were working with an insurance agent who knew the health insurance market in Arizona. He was confident that I would be able to obtain coverage despite my pre-existing condition.
CeCe was able to obtain coverage without any problem. Unfortunately, I was denied twice (including appeals) by two different health insurers. I began to worry about what would happen when COBRA expired. I explored every option for obtaining coverage that I could come up with such as plans offered through alumni associations, professional associations, club memberships and insurance offered by the state. None of these panned out.
But at the start of 2011 insurance companies began to prepare for the advent of the Affordable Care Act. They loosened their restrictions on pre-existing conditions so I was able to obtain coverage. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good!
At last, we both had health insurance. What a relief.
When I look back at my fear and apprehension about the uncertainty of getting insurance in the private marketplace, I can say that I nailed it. Obtaining private health insurance turned out to be the biggest hurdle we had to clear in order to be able to enjoy retirement.

Lessons Learned

  • With the inception of the Affordable Care Act, pre-existing conditions no longer exempt you from obtaining coverage in the private marketplace
  • COBRA offers a bridge from having insurance through a company to finding insurance elsewhere. The cost of COBRA is high and expires after 18 months.
  • An insurance agent can help navigate the challenges of the private insurance market but I think that they may add more value when the time comes to figure out Medicare and supplemental insurance.