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I had a real sense of urgency when I found out my COBRA insurance was cancelled as of December 1. Read below to find out what's happened since then.

I visited my local Navigator on Veteran's Day, November 11. On Wednesday, I logged in to find out what was status on my application. "In progress". I called and as usual there was a prompt pick-up. I was told I needed to send in additional "proof" that I was who I said I was, i.e., I needed to send a photocopy of my driver's license or voter registration. I got the address, and decided to send both by certified mail since I would be able to track when it arrived, and I was told it would be 8-10 business days for my application to be vetted once the information was received. On Friday, November 15, I got an e-mail from the USPS: my letter to the HIM processing center in London, KY had left the sorting facility in Knoxville, TN. Surely, I though, it would be delivered on Monday.

Monday came, and when I checked, it still showed that my letter was still in transit. Tuesday, still in transit. I decided something had gone wrong. I called the HIM, and asked if I sent in my ID info again under different cover, would I mess things up? No, I was assured, just make sure you put your ID# on the photocopy. So I went to my local UPS store and asked Greg, the proprietor, to send my envelope. He punched in the address I gave him and printed out the UPS sticker.

"Hey, wait a minute," I said. "This isn't the same zip code. It's supposed to go to 40750, not 40741." Greg looked at the computer screen. "That's the zip code UPS has for that location," he said. "They guarantee it will be delivered there by Thursday (November 21)."

So, OK. Another $13.50 on top of the $3.65 already spent on the USPS. Sure enough, UPS showed that it was delivered on November 21. I figured with the holiday, I wouldn't hear anything until the week after Thanksgiving. Sure enough, on December 4 I got a call from the HIM: Please call to complete your application.

So I did. There were some additional questions, then a really, really, really long wait while the computer chewed on my application. Finally, success! My application status went from "In Progress" to "Submitted." I could proceed to choosing my plan and getting enrolled.

I visited my physician before my insurance lapsed and asked him which of three available providers (Kaiser, Anthem Healthkeepers, Optima) was the best.

"They all stink," he said. "All private insurance carriers are crooks interested in their profits, not your health. We use Optima here. We don't take the other two."

So that decision was made. I had a choice of one (1) policy at the Silver level. I checked my specialists, endocrinologist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist and the local hospital: all on the Optima list. I will lose my optometrist, whom I really like, but oh well.

I won't use the entire subsidy, which means I will get the remainder as a tax credit. I made my choice yesterday, and added a nice dental package that will COB with another plan I have with AARP. Of course, I will be nervous until I hear from Optima and finalize payment, but overall I will be paying a mite less than COBRA for a plan that doesn't match group coverage, but is much, much better than any individual plan I have ever seen. The Optima plan costs more than Kaiser or Anthem, but delivers what I need.

It works, and I am thrilled!

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