HEALTH INSURANCE RTAGER Q & A
Here is a great post about COBRA.
Question: For those that have made the transition (specifically voluntary separation) from Army to airline, what did you do for health insurance in between Tricare and the company plan? Is COBRA the only option? Would a voluntary separation qualify for COBRA? Any help greatly appreciated as I’m trying to get this squared away in the next couple months.
COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. It was devised by the American government, which defines COBRA as a health insurance that would remain in effect should you be terminated or off-laid from your job. This health insurance would remain in effect for a period of 18 months after the job is terminated.
Check into what I am about to tell you because it worked for me in 2005 when American Airlines layed me off and I was between jobs. Don’t go by what I say below, please make sure it still applies for you today because it worked for me and saved me a lot of money.
With COBRA you don’t have to make the monthly payments to use it. It is available to you for the entire 18 month period but there are exceptions. It is available and can be extended to 29 or 36 months. The way I understand it is if you start to make COBRA payments you have to make them every month for the entire period to keep it. If you don’t start making payments you can still use it but have to go back to when it first became available to you and pay for the previous months you didn’t use it.
Don’t take my word for this because this may still not apply but definitely check into it to save yourself some money and also have a back up for a major medical situation for you or a family member.
My situation is I didn’t start to pay for it monthly. 3 months later my daughter got really sick and was hospitalized. We ended up having a $10,000 plus medical bill. At the time I believe my monthly COBRA payment were around $800 dollars. So to use COBRA I had to go back and pay $2400 dollars for the previous months I didn’t use COBRA. Then COBRA covered my entire medical bill saving me $7600.
I had a friend of mine who didn’t know you could do this and we spoke after the fact. She started to pay her monthly COBRA payments immediately after losing her job, which for her were around $1000 dollars a month. Four months into it she got to where she could not afford to make these payments and quit paying so she lost her COBRA benefit for the last 14 months. I explained to her that she did not need to pay for the COBRA benefit to have it. It is available for the entire allotted time period but once you pay it and then stop you lose it. She never had to use it during the time it was available and so could have saved her self $4000. Again don’t take my word for it but definitely check into this.
One Last thing medical bills are negotiable. When they send you or the insurance company a bill it is inflated and they are hoping for you to pay that amount. Insurance companies NEVER pay the billed amount. They negotiate a lower final payment. I learned this years ago from my brother in law who is an orthopedic surgeon and have never paid the billed amount again. I always negotiate a reduced amount and/or a monthly payment. The doctors, hospitals or medical providers for me have always been willing to do this. Good luck to everyone on their future.
Question: Those those of you who have retired, did you use Tricare or company health benefits?
Fwiw most retired (and guard/reserve) guys I’ve asked use tricare for medical and company for dental. Anectdotal but seems to hold true. Tricare is better than jetblue medical.
Tricare for medical. Company dental and vision. We'll see how well the new dental and vision with Tricare with Fed system compares in Nov-ish. I got to keep the same doctors for my family.
maybe this is ignorant, why is company vision/dental preferable over tricare? I’m now a dependapotamus not retired.
--> TRICARE dental isn’t bad, but better augmented with cheap company insurance. TRICARE doesn’t offer anything for vision except for an annual check up. No coverage on glasses or contacts.
--> Company is usually same coverage and cheaper
Tricare for medical. The retirement dental is garbage. It is crazy expensive compared to anything else you can find out there.
Tricare medical, vision through employer.
Tricare medical, company vision and dental.
Tricare medical and company dental for the family. I’m the only one with glasses so I only do vision for myself. I’ll add the family if they need it later.
Tricare prime for $578 family per year. If you take that route make the payment before the 10th of your last month in the Army so there is no gap in coverage...
Tricare for medical, vision and dental through the company. And my primary physician is with the VA.
Question: For those of you separating (not retiring), what are other options for healthcare aside from the quarterly $3,200 continued health care benefits that Tricare offers? It takes 90 days for the company benefits to kick in from what I understand.
COBRA (see above post about it)
For family, look at healthcare.gov enrollment
--> I had to do healthcare website for my family as well. I strongly recommend actually calling and having one of their people walk you through the application process, as there are some rules that aren't publicized with regards to enrollment and subsidies. For example, the CHCBP plan for families from TRICARE exceeded 10% of my monthly income when I applied (which was/is zero as I work through flight training), so I qualified for assistance. Also, I couldn't be on the policy for health care as I have coverage through the VA.
If it’s just to hold you over for 90 days then don’t get anything. Tricare Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP) will cover you and your family for 180 days after separation
--> After doing some digging, TAMP is awesome IF you are going reserve/guard otherwise it does not apply unless you are being separated involuntarily.
Yes use Tricare TAMP. It will cover you and your family just like Tricare Prime for 6 months. You MUST ask for TAMP it is not automatic. As a reservist, I have used this benefit after all four of my deployments!
Envoy is 30 days.
With TSA it is 60 days or the first of the month following 30 days after returning for ground school. Each company is different so you will have to see what that company has for a program.
Please reply to this post with any advice or questions you have with health insurance at the airlines!
Just want to confirm something about Tricare for those that are resigning from active duty (ie: UQR, REFRAD, etc.). Health care has been a big topic between my wife and I as she is pregnant for my transition off active duty. I have been confused for some time now about health care options that are available when leaving active duty. Last week I completed SFL-TAP (formerly ACAP), and received a Tricare briefing. I have been reading and hearing that individuals leaving active duty can receive 180 days of additional Tricare Prime free of charge (aka TAMP). The Tricare representative mentioned this was possible so I asked her how does one go about doing this and...well, she didn't have a clue. No surprise here. I was still very curious about TAMP so I ended up sitting down with another representative from Tricare, a DEERS representative, and finally an individual from my post Transition Office. I finally found out that this 180 days of continued care is only available to individuals that are involuntarily separated. If you submitted a UQR or REFRAD, TAMP will not be available to you.