Coffee heat rising

Another Round of the Bureaucrat’s Waltz

So, after class yesterday afternoon it was off to the downtown offices of the Arizona Department of Administration, there to try to unknot the COBRA mess. This racked up an extra 28 miles on the car’s odometer, draining the gas tank to the point where I needed a refill.

A very nice representative greeted me at the desk. She again informed me I was not registered for COBRA, and after some discussion we ascertained that yes, I am trying to get the hell onto the COBRA rolls. Somehow. Anyhow. Please. With no more runarounds.

She decided that the amount I owed was not $334 but a mere $313. That was nice, since it will cover me through January to the end of February. Earlier reports suggested that I’d be paying $185 a month to continue in my $36/month EPO and continue Delta Dental’s coverage.

The reason for the apparent discount, it develops, is PeopleSoft’s having kept me on the payroll (without pay) until January 10. Since I remained in the records as an ASU employee  into January, ASU’s regular healthcare policy covered me until then. So I got 10 days off the fee for January.

The new $186/month premium will cover health insurance only. After January’s $161 paycheck from the community colleges, obviously I can’t afford the extra $12/month to continue the dental care coverage.

Did I get a receipt for the check I forked over? No.

Did I get a contract or a policy in exchange for the check I forked over? No.

Did I get any evidence whatsoever that I’m enrolled in this program? Not exactly.

She xeroxed the dear-sir-you-cur letter I’d written describing the endless runarounds I’ve been given and asking to be enrolled with no further contradictory stories, appending the check to the bottom the copy of page 2. At the bottom of the page 2-&-check photocopy, she wrote “paid” and the amounts that were owing for January and February.

Whether that will hold any water if push ever comes to shove, I do not know. Whether I will ever see a policy, an insurance card, or any other evidence that I’m actually covered, I do not know.

When I remarked, in summary of the dear-sir-you-cur, that no two of the many people I’d spoken to had given me the same story, she replied, sweetly, that I seemed to be a great deal less confused than most folks who came into the office.


4 thoughts on “Another Round of the Bureaucrat’s Waltz”

  1. Just wanted to let you know your current insurance card is still your coverage. Nothing changes with COBRA. It isn’t a separate or different coverage. It is the most recent coverage that you had in effect. I know how you hate us HR folks LOL. But the card you have in your wallet is still in effect. If the University changes it’s policies or coverage you will be sent info or new cards for that. : ) Take care and so glad you got it worked out! With the subsidy they have been a bit more lenient on the deadlines for signing up.

  2. @ Cathy: Well, I don’t hate ASU’s HR people, since it’s evidently not their fault that they’re inadequately trained. It would be like hating a force of nature, anyway…what would be the point in wasting perfectly good negative emotion on something that can’t appreciate it?

    Obviously as much bad advice proceeds from ADOA as from ASU’s HR department, because evidently no one who interacts with the Great Unwashed really understands fully how this hideously overcomplicated system works.

    What would it take for Management to write, in clear English, a list of steps for the employee to take?


    1. Obtain confirmation from your department that you were involuntarily terminated through no fault of your own.
    2. Learn exactly when your termination date is.
    3. On or before your termination date, fill out an application form for COBRA and submit it to _____________.
    4. At the same time, submit with your application a check made out to ADOA-HITF for ____________.
    5. Expect XXXX amount of time before you are enrolled in COBRA and you begin to receive monthly premium statements.
    6. Use your current insurance card until such time as you receive your COBRA insurance card.

    How hard is this? These guys earn three to ten times what any of the rest of us earn, and they can’t write six sentences to clarify what they’re doing and what we’re supposed to do? The only conclusion any sane person can draw is that they just don’t give a damn.

    By the way, I was told by the last ADOA rep who spoke with me that if I need medical care I should inform healthcare providers I’m under COBRA and that they will have to call ADOA about my status and about getting reimbursed. No one at ADOA or at ASU has ever told me or even hinted that my old insurance card is still good. In fact, while I was told that COBRA could be made to cover me retroactively, I also was told that when my job ends my insurance coverage ends.

    On Friday and yesterday, when I spoke with ADOA reps, I was told not once but twice that I was not covered because, never having received a statement and having been explicitly told that I was not supposed to pay the amount demanded before my job ended, I had never ponied up the preliminary payment. That doesn’t seem to imply that one’s old insurance card is likely to be honored.

  3. *lifting head from desk* How sad is it that I found that her photocopying version of a receipt at least a little bit reassuring?

    Heavens … and somehow I’m not surprised that you’re one of the best informed of the lot. How frustrating all around.

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