Just realized I didn’t write a post this morning and then, whilst frolicking with bureaucrats, didn’t get to it this afternoon, either.
Another fine exercise in jumping through hoops and tearing around the Maypole today.
Not having heard anything more from the COBRA administrators over the past 15 days, despite having been told that a notice and a statement would be sent out, I called again to inquire.
Today’s bureaucrat harked back to the original claim that I needed to have sent them money a month BEFORE I was laid off my job. I explained that Arizona State University’s Human Resources people said that I was not supposed to send money while I was still employed there. She said well, then I wasn’t covered.
So I’ve now spent the last month without any health coverage at all, if you believe this one’s version.
She wants me to present myself in person on Monday—when I’ll be teaching until 2:00 in the afternoon about 25 miles from their office—with a check for $334 in hand. This, she says, will cover me through February.
Of course, that doesn’t make any sense, because the one who told me I’d been approved for the ARRAS discount said my premiums would be $185. Two times $185 is $370. So… who knows what this is about.
Entertaining, isn’t it?
First ASU’s HR people told me I would be not qualified for the ARRAS discount because my last day of work was December 31. Then the Arizona Department of Administration, which administers COBRA, told me I would be qualified for the ARRAS discount because my last day of work was December 31. I sent an application and was told I was approved.
Next, ADOA said I should send a chunk of money to the state no later than the first week in December. Then ASU’s HR department told me this demand was incomprehensible, that I most certainly did not need to send money for COBRA while I was still employed by ASU, and that COBRA would send me a statement after I was terminated, saying how much and when to pay.
In mid-January, ADOA informed me that I was not terminated and as far as they could tell I was still employed by ASU. Then ASU told me I most certainly was terminated and ADOA did not know what they were talking about. Then ADOA told me I was not terminated and was still a state employee.
After I spoke with my ex-husband’s former law partner, who is now Arizona State University’s general counsel, I was told the mess was cleaned up. At that point, I was informed that I had actually been canned not on December 31 but on January 10, but nevertheless because the Obama Administration had extended the ARRAS discount into February, I still would be able to get coverage I could sort of pay for.
On January 14, I spoke to one Connie at ADOA, who said I did not have to send a check but that I would receive a letter telling me of my eligibility and letting me know where and when to send a premium payment. And by the way, no, I did not need to make a COBRA payment a month before my job ended. That was 15 days ago. No such communication has appeared.
Now I am told I need to pony up $334.04, which is supposed to cover me “through February.” Three hundred and thirty-four dollars is slightly more than twice the earned income I have received this month.
So, this afternoon I called the Feds.
There I learned that while COBRA is indeed a federal law, the federal government’s regulatory oversight is limited to private employers. If you work for a state university or government office, you’re on your own! I asked the woman who shared this gem with me if she thought I should call a lawyer. She said not yet…it’ll be another week or so before they’re actually in violation of the law. She recommended going back to HR (hah! words from a lady who’s never had to deal with ASU’s HR department!) and nagging some more.
I am nagged out. On Monday I will trudge down to ADOA in person, hand over $334, and demand a receipt that states exactly what the money is for, and not only that, ask that they produce a policy or a contract describing what I get and when. After that, I give up. If I get in a car wreck or have a heart attack before Medicare kicks in, I guess I’ll just have to drain my savings to pay the bills and then declare bankruptcy.
Ain’t workin’ for the State of Arizona grand?