Cancer patient loses coverage over a penny

Cancer patient loses coverage over a penny
Cancer patient loses coverage over a penny

It seems like the Mother of all health care horror stories: an unemployed single mom suffering from leukemia almost lost her health insurance because she underpaid her COBRA premium by a penny. It's made the national media, including MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" and the Huffington Post. But there's more to the story than meets the eye.

Larosa Carrington of Colorado Springs, Colo. was treated shabbily by Discovery Benefits, the administrator of her COBRA benefits. Since she never received a bill, the laid-off college admissions counselor was forced to calculate how much she owed on her own. By Carrington's reckoning, she figured that $165.15 was the correct amount and sent the payment to North Dakota-based Discovery Benefits. In response, the company sent her a badly written, legalistic letter saying that "the amount of your payment was not enough to satisfy your initial premium payment ... so your coverage has not been reinstated with your insurance carrier."