Can't afford health insurance? Your options
If you're one of the 50 million Americans without coverage, you still have some access to affordable care.
This post come from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.
Chuck, a good friend of mine, has now been without a "real" job for more than three years. He does odd jobs to stay alive, and because he's skilled in both carpentry and mechanics, he gets by. But health insurance? Forget about it. So a few months back when he got too sick to function, he utilized what he considered his only option: the emergency room.
Chuck's not alone. According to the latest census data, there are now 49.9 million Americans without health insurance. It's a safe bet that many skip the doctor and use super-expensive emergency services. But if you're one of the uninsured like Chuck, here's something you need to know: You have other options.
- Treatment for illnesses.
- Care for pregnant women.
- Immunizations for children.
- Dental care and prescriptions.
- Mental health and substance abuse care.
These clinics price their services based on your ability to pay. To find one near you, go to the HRSA search page and type in your address.
To learn more about Medicaid, visit this page of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services site. To find out if you qualify, you'll want to visit your state's Medicaid information site: Here's a list of links (.pdf file).
If you don't qualify for Medicaid, your kids may still qualify for your state's Children's Health Insurance Program. The eligibility cutoff varies, but "children up to age 19 in families with incomes up to $45,000 per year (for a family of four) are likely to be eligible," says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To learn more about these programs, check out this page of insurekidsnow.gov.
That practice will be fully banned in 2014 because of the Affordable Care Act. Until then, HealthInsurance.org can tell you more about each state’s high-risk pool program. If you've looked at this option before, look again: HHS made it easier and cheaper to acquire coverage last July.
Also keep in mind that some pharmacies and grocery stores, including Wal-Mart, Kroger, Target and Publix, now offer some antibiotics and common medications free or at rates as low as $4 for a month's supply. There's a big list of others at this page of About.com.
- Patient Advocate Foundation is a national nonprofit that offers advice, case management assistance, a program that helps those who already have insurance and certain diseases get lower co-pays, and a database of financial resources sorted by state.
- Healthcare.gov, originally designed to explain the changes made by the health care reform law, is also a great resource for those seeking care. It offers an insurance plan finder, tools for comparing the quality of care across providers, advice on enrolling in free or low-cost programs, and plenty of other information.
- The Access Project helps people enroll in many programs, find a doctor, or get cheaper care. They specialize in helping HIV and hepatitis patients, but offer many resources for everyone.
- Catastrophic coverage. If you find that typical insurance is too expensive, do what I do: Get a high-deductible policy. These policies are much less expensive because you pay the first $2,000 to $10,000 of expenses yourself. While you'll pay out-of-pocket for things like doctor visits, at least if the worst happens, you'll be able to avoid going bankrupt. Plus, just being associated with an insurance company will often result in significant discounts. To find a high-deductible policy, try our insurance search tool.
- Part-time work. Benefits packages usually come only with full-time employment, but not always. A number of companies, including Starbucks and Lowe's, offer insurance for part-time employees.
More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:
Most poor people don't know about these options because very few articles, and no advertisements about them have been published. It was only by chance that I saw this one.
This is very informative, but seems to be inaccurate. As usual, the premiums for my state's high risk pool have increased. They always offer you that as a suggestion, but who can afford well over 1,000 per month for a premium for one person and then pay the high deductible and copay that goes with it?
The only hope for those of us with pre-existing conditions is that the Affordable Healthcare Act stays in tact and is able to proceed so insurance companies can no longer line their pockets while the rest of us suffer.
What ELSE would you expect in America-SCREW the poor!!
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