Hanging On

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
My husband died last year (suicide). Two months later I was laid off.
Needless to say I was a mess. My wonderful boys and I have been
living with my mom in what is a pretty good arrangement. I have been
paying COBRA (losing insurance would be the last blow, though fragile
as I am so might losing my keys). As I was decluttering, I found a
letter re my dental COBRA being terminated for non-payment. I could
afford to pay to reinstate it (i.e. pay the retroactive benefits). Is there
a court of mercy in insurance?
Hanging On

Dear Hanging on:
Here’s the reality: People generally have 60 days to say yes or no to
Cobra, then they fall back into the general risk pool of the
underinsured. Dental insurance is not that hard to acquire relative to
say medical insurance, for several reasons. Unless someone has
unique genetics or history, teeth are pretty much teeth and unlike
heart disease, diabetes, and the other biggies not a great discriminator
between the healthy and the less so.

The only out involves a healthy dose of moral elasticity, acting skills,
and perseverance. Call the COBRA provider and say the equivalent of,
I tried to make an appointment for teeth cleaning and they told me the
insurance is lapsed. I’ve been paying my COBRA every month. What
gives? It’s close enough to the truth you can sound convincing. Listen
through the Why you are not covered speech, ask for a supervisor,
and maintain a stance of righteous indignation. Keep proclaiming that
you have been paying, were never told there were two different
COBRA payments, and are willing to pay arrears. Odds are still that
you’ll lose, sorry to say. Six months is an eon in insurance land. But by
my back-of- the-envelope math, you’re better off putting the deferred
payments towards actual tooth care than paying for the past. Also
deferring any care that can wait until you get a job. If you’re
desperate, get an individual policy.


My condolences btw. It sounds like a rough patch. I hope your
mothering skills are great and you have a strong network of friends.