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I'm leaving my job at the end of the month. I'd like to continue my health insurance that was part of the company benefits. What are the most common subtle ins/outs or gotchas for someone starting/enrolling in COBRA for the first time?

I'm living in California just fyi.

More info: going through the COBRA process has taught me one thing: keep detailed notes about all interactions w/ anyone involved in administration of COBRA. I've run into some tricky situations where the following were essential:

  • records of who I talked to on the phone
  • when I talked to them
  • what I said
  • what they said
  • what dates the checks I mailed were cashed (per my bank records)
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If possible and if it applies - try to end your employment on thie first or second day of the month - typically your employer will cover the whole month so you get "free" coverage for those days.

One gotcha for me when I needed coverage was I ended my employment at the end of the month and the cobra paperwork was not done when I needed healthcare shortly thereafter. What a hassle that was...

Make sure you pay the premiums on time. Don't be afraid to call the employer and the plan administrator. Expect that you are going to have to do legwork if you actually use the coverage.

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Start with the source: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq_consumer_cobra.html

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