5/16/2012 8:04 PM ET|
Survival guide for the uninsured
If you don't meet the criteria for a high-risk pool, you may still have alternatives. Check out CoverageforAll.org, a site run by the Foundation for Health Coverage Education. The site's quiz can help you identify your health insurance options and provides links to start your application. Some of the ways you might be able to find insurance coverage include:
COBRA. If you were covered by health insurance at work but are about to lose your job, you're typically entitled to coverage for up to 18 months under the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. Unfortunately, you have to pick up the whole tab for this coverage, which can be tough to afford. Coverage for a family now averages nearly $1,300 a month, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A federal subsidy that once helped laid-off workers pay for coverage has expired. Talk to your human resources department for details.
High-deductible policies. You'll pay more of your routine medical costs out of pocket, but these policies protect you against catastrophic medical bills. Having the coverage also entitles you to insurer-negotiated discounts with doctors and hospitals. (Many medical providers charge the uninsured higher rates and fees because these consumers aren't covered by such discounts.) An insurance broker or eHealthInsurance can help you find policies.
The right high-deductible policy could also qualify you for a health savings account, which could trim your tax bill. HSAs function somewhat like IRAs, in that you (or an employer) can contribute tax-deductible money that can grow tax-deferred. The difference is that while IRAs are for retirement, HSAs are designed to pay for medical expenses.
Short-term coverage. Many insurers that provide individual policies have a bridge, or short-term option, typically designed to cover you until you land your next job. These are typically cheaper than regular individual policies because the insurer is exposed to claims for a limited time. An insurance broker may be able to help you find coverage.
Small-business plans. If you own your own business, you may be able to purchase a group plan that's more affordable than individual coverage. Requirements vary by state; some allow businesses with only one employee (the owner) to purchase group coverage, while other states require two or more employees. Tax credits can help you cover some of the premiums. You can find available plans and carriers in your area at eHealthInsurance.
Health insurance for kids. Most states sponsor low-cost or free health insurance for children, and a few will cover their parents for an additional fee. A family of four in most places can qualify for insurance for their kids with an annual income up to $44,100 a year; in higher-cost areas, that limit may be higher. For more information, visit InsureKidsNow.gov, a government-run website.
Medicaid. This government-funded coverage is generally reserved for people with very low incomes and few assets. Each state has different guidelines. For more information, visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a U.S. government website.
If none of those options works for you, you'll be relegated to a patchwork system of government and charitable programs that try to provide help for America's uninsured.
Because there are so many people in the same boat, however, some of these resources are overwhelmed.
That doesn't mean you should delay screenings and treatments, only that you may need to wait longer for an appointment than if you were privately insured.
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Prescriptions- Liz forgot to mention you can shop around for the lowest cost. If you do not have a Costco card you can still use the pharmacy.
Also- call your local pharmacy to see if they will "price match".
Walmart is not always cheaper- a generic script would cost me $33 at Walmart- $11 at Target. Walmart advised me they did not price match.
This article was totally useless! The author assumes that you can afford to get insurance, but you just don't know what's available to you. Don't you realize that most people who don't have health insurance don't have it because they can't afford it? Any reasonably intelligent person realizes that health insurance is important. Millions of Americans don't have it because they work for minimum wage or slightly above and their employers don't offer insurance, or they are un-employed and there's NO WAY they can pay for insurance. An earlier post was from a guy who made $60,000 a year and can't afford $1200 per month to cover his wife and kids. How I WISH I had his problem!!
I make less than $9.00 per hour. My take home pay is approximately $1100 per month. I barely scrape by with the normal bills a person has. Our economy is crap! NO WAY CAN I AFFORD HEALTH INSURANCE. I don't even go to the local "poor peoples clinic" unless it's an emergency because I can't afford the $30 office call. (Which is reasonable and the Dr. is awesome!)
There is NOTHING about the Affordable Health Care Act that will be affordable for people like me.
BTW, for those that wonder, I'm a single, 60 year old, college educated woman doing everything I can to take care of me. I'm not some low class bum waiting for a handout, a young kid who doesn't know any better, or any other class you might want to put me in.
OBAMACARE JUST WON'T WORK!!!
If you are out of options, there is one more that no one ever talks about- the Military. If you can qualify for one of the services ( especially if you have desirable civilian skills and education ) ,their family benefits package is almost as good as the Federal Government. In addition you'll get paid, free food , room and board, and education benefits when you get discharged. There are alot of people who have gone this route during the current recession. It beats being homeless or unemployed with no benefits.
By the way , I went this route. After my discharge, I went to college and got a degree, then another one. And now, I have a very successful and secure corporate career.
Yes, but what do you do when you're unemployed and can't afford coverage, as I have been for the past TEN YEARS? The only way that I can get to see a Dr. is through what is known as CHARITY CARE, but who knows how long that will last.
The late comedian George Carlin said it best... "THE REASON THEY CALL IT THE AMERICAN DREAM IS BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO BE ASLEEP TO BELIEVE IT"
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