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Discrimination and Cobra New York

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  • Discrimination and Cobra New York

    I'm having enormous problems with my former employer and their Cobra policies. I desperately need some advice.

    I went onto Cobra in 2007 and then qualified for SSDI in 2008. I was never told by SS or my lawyer I qualified for an 11 month Cobra extension because I was disabled. 30 days before the coverage was set to expire I received a letter which stated the company did not offer extensions and I should contact the HMO about conversion plans. They did not mention the disability extension clause. I signed up for and paid for an individual policy with half the benefits with the HMO. 4 days before the expiration date I read about the disability extension on-line and notified them. They told me I should have notified them within 60 days of SSDI approval. They took almost 4 weeks to review the extension request and when they finally did, they informed me per NY state law they were allowed to raise the monthly payment by 150%. They said the decision was retroactive to the first of that month. So I owed them the full payment for the month even though they had cancelled the coverage on Sept 1st. I argued that I shouldn't have to pay for benefits I didn't have and the extension should start on the 1st of the next month. They told me I'd have to pay or drop the plan.

    To make matters worse, they simply refuse to accept any form of payment other than a check accompanied by a coupon that must be mailed each month. I've repeatedly asked to set up an electronic payment plan because I'm disabled and can't always get out to the post office. They told me no. I called again in Nov. about setting up another form of payment and was told me they did in fact have an electronic payment plan and they would mail me the form. Two days later they called and said "we made a mistake, we won't accept electronic payments because your on Cobra". In Dec., my bank made an error which caused an overdraft the day they tried to post the payment. I immediately called and told them the bank corrected the error and asked if they could repost the payment. They said no. On the 27th, they told me I had mail another check which only left 4 days for it to post. I had to ship it overnight. The next day, I checked my bank account and they had reposted the original check. I called and told them not to cash the second check they received that day. They told me the system was down and they would have somebody call me back "before the end of the day" to review the problem. They never did. The following business day, they cashed the second check. Now I can't even afford the co-payments on my medical appointments or medication until my next disability check arrives. This is friggin nuts!

    Doesn't this all qualify as discrimination? They're clearly making it as difficult as possible to make payments so I'll either drop the coverage or miss a payment. They've screwed me twice with double payments and now have me living off loans from my credit card. Can I take any action against them or do I just have to sit here and take it? Help!!!