Archives for November 4, 2014

Our Family’s Retroactive COBRA Health Insurance Experience

healthIn order to extend her maternity leave, my wife is taking an unpaid leave-of-absence from her job. Since this means we will lose her employer-paid health insurance and our child has an issue that requires regular doctor visits at this time, we knew that we would have to sign up for COBRA benefits. Our employer-paid coverage ended 9/30. Somehow due to an administrative mishap, we did not get the paperwork until the third week of October, by which we already had four different (expensive!) doctor visits.

I have written before about the ability to get retroactive COBRA benefits, so I knew that we would be okay:

You have 60 days after you lose your benefits to elect to pay for COBRA coverage. However, even if you enroll on Day 60, your coverage is retroactive to Day 1. Of course, you’ll have to pay the retroactive premiums for that period. Thus, you could technically waive your COBRA coverage initially, and then wait to see if you incur any medical bills.

Her employer uses the big benefit provider Conexis to manage their COBRA administration. We were able to make our COBRA plan elections online and even paid the premiums online via electronic bank transfer. The process was much smoother than I thought it would be; some parts of the healthcare industry are just so archaic.

Our coverage was retroactive to 10/1, and all of our healthcare providers had to resubmit their claims. One thing that I didn’t expect what that we had to get new insurance card and insurance numbers for everyone in the family. I was also surprised that we were able to pick and choose amongst our original workplace options (Dependent coverage, HMO, PPO, etc.) I thought that COBRA meant we would just continue on with our exact same plan as before. Just wanted to share our story in case anyone was wondering how it worked.

Amazon Prime Photos: Free Unlimited Photo Backup

azphotosAmazon has announced another feature for Prime subscribers: unlimited free online photo storage. As part of their Cloud Drive, Prime Photos will allow you to back up all your photos in full resolution via either web browser, smartphone app, or desktop PC software. The iOS and Android apps can be set to automatically upload your “camera roll” photos.

Prime Photos requires an Amazon Prime, Amazon Mom, Amazon Student or Amazon Fresh membership (trials count).

Back in May 2014, Flickr announced 1,000 GB of free online photo storage also at full resolution. Their smartphone app can also auto-upload pictures from your phone. For Google+ Photos, any photos over 2048×2048 pixels will count toward your storage limit (15 GB free; 1 TB is $9.99 per month).

On the one hand, Prime Photos provides even more value to Prime subscribers and it is good to have a service you pay some money towards. Flickr is free, but that also means they might shut down in the future if they lack revenue for ongoing support. On the other hand, if you stop your $99 a year Prime membership you’ll either lose your photos or have to pay for Cloud Drive storage. It’s not very cheap: 1 TB of storage costs $500 year.