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I will be in the hospital recovering from surgery at the time my COBRA insurance expires. My surgery will be covered, but what happens with the last couple days of hospitalization beyond the end of my COBRA coverage?

Talk about bad timing.  Your COBRA insurance will not cover any procedures or hospital charges that accrue after the expiration of your coverage with COBRA, even if your hospital stay started when your coverage was still in effect. 

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The best suggestion is to get your surgery date moved up.  If you explain the reasoning to your doctor, hopefully he or she will be able to accommodate you so that COBRA is effect for your whole hospital period. 

If it’s impossible to get your surgery date moved, then it may be complicated, but it’s possible you could get new coverage that starts as your COBRA coverage ends. 

The expiration of your COBRA coverage opens up a special enrollment period with the health insurance marketplace.  Depending upon your income, you may be eligible for premium tax credits and lower out-of-pocket costs with a health insurance plan purchased this way.

The federal government’s Healthcare.gov website notes that if you are replacing your COBRA coverage, it’s important to not let your COBRA coverage end before your new individual health plan begins.  Thus, if your surgery date cannot be moved, start shopping now for a marketplace health insurance policy that will start as COBRA expires so that there will not be a gap in coverage.

Having two different health insurance policies during your hospital stay could make billing confusing, but it is ultimately the hospital’s problem to figure out and bill the correct insurance company for its portion of your stay.

Last updated: Jul. 22, 2014
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