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Financial Matters - health insurance

Jamie1.3cm's picture
Jamie1.3cm
Posts: 188
Joined: Jan 2011

I've had a chronic disease my entire life, so I'm familiar with the importance of being financially savvy about health issues. I'm neither an insurance agent nor an attorney, but thought we all might benefit from some tips. Assumptions: You are a US citizen between the ages of 18-65, not covered by Medicare, or 18-26 not covered on your parent's policy.

Things you should know:

Tip 1: Keep your health insurance. Never assume that you're fine now, even if you are. Even just the history of previous cancer can bar you from future coverage.

Tip 2: If you lose your job (or get divorced and lose coverage), COBRA your current health insurance for as long as possible, 18-36 months depending on the situation. It's expensive, $300-400/month for one person is common, but that's less expensive than having a gap in coverage.

Tip 3: When you get a new job, you get all sorts of new health care opportunities you may have missed before. First, companies are required to cover you under group coverage, regardless of pre-existing conditions -- that's the beauty of group insurance. (You will no longer qualify for individual insurance.) But be sure to note any waiting periods. Some companies "opt out" of the requirement of providing "continuous coverage" to anyone who came in with health insurance from their previous job or COBRA. Continue COBRA through any waiting periods. Because it will be new coverage, you can get long-term health care and short & longer-term disability without having to provide EOI, Evidence of Insurability (proof of good health, no previous diagnoses). Take advantage of those opportunities when first offered. You won't be able to add them later unless you can prove EOI, which you can't.

Tip 4: While most people are covered by SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), if you are a teacher, judge, or other govt employee, you may have had to waive your rights to social security in order to participate in your pension plan, hence the importance of longer-term disability and long-term care insurance.

Tip 5: If you do lose your insurance because you don't work full-time or your COBRA has expired, you may be able to find group insurnace in unexpected places. College alumni associations typically offer group health insurance. Faith-based organizations, professional associations, volunteer organizations, chambers of commerce, and similar entities often offer group health insurance for their members.

Tip 6: Some states offer High Risk Insurance Pools to people with serious diseases. These are great insurance policies with liberal benefits, but they can be extremely expensive. I think I was paying $600/month several years ago. But since my monthly medications alone were close to $1000/month without insurance, it was well worth it. It paid for itself.

Tip 7: Even if you do have good insurance through work, COBRA, or an association, play it smart financially. At some point, you will not only reach your annual deductible, but you will also reach your out-of-pocket expense limit. Exploit that. Once you've paid out all your insurance requires you pay out annually, get anything else done that same fiscal year. For example, I had my kidney surgery in June. My doctor wanted my first follow-up ct scan in early January. Nope, it's going to be in late December. It makes no sense to do something for thousands of dollars in early January that could be done at no expense in late December.

Future health care reforms could change this info favorably, but I wouldn't count on it. The most vocal Americans these days seem least interested in helping the ill and uninsured. Be prepared to protect yourself as much as possible.

icemantoo's picture
icemantoo
Posts: 1452
Joined: Jan 2010

As a senior citizen I could say that I do not care about Health Insurance because I am over 65 and on Medicare. However unlike some politicians out there I do care about others besides myself even though some on the right call that socialism. It would be a shame if the teabaggers take over and our country goes from caring for all as opposed to only giving the job creators more tax cuts. More than a few of our fellow RCC members will not be able to get the surgery they need to save there lives if we do not have universal heath coverage. Those of you who do not care about others are free to disagree.

Icemantoo

Jamie1.3cm's picture
Jamie1.3cm
Posts: 188
Joined: Jan 2011

Did you see the story a couple years ago about the tea-bagger founding member who railed against govt providing health insurance for people. And then she had some major surgery -- hip, possibly -- and guess who paid for it? Yep, you got it: the federal govt.

So what she REALLY meant to say was that it's ok for HER to have federal health insurance benefits, but not anyone else.

MikeK703's picture
MikeK703
Posts: 235
Joined: Sep 2010

As somebody who for the last two years has had to pay $2,200 a month for my and my wife's health insurance until we are eligible for Medicare, I am certainly not one who opposes health care reform. I don't believe that people should be dying in a country as great as ours (once was) because of lack of health insurance. However, to single out a new political movement, of which I am NOT a member but some of whose goals I agree with, as the villain here is bit naive. After all, our health care problems go back decades and both parties have had ample opportunity to resolve them but chose instead to put them on the backburner for years, as they have with other burning issues. I'm also not thrilled with the implication here that if somebody disagrees with one's political views that person must not care about others. There is plenty of complacency, on both sides of the political fence, by those who have adequate health insurance for themselves and their families and who are not at all concerned by others' lack of the same.

icemantoo's picture
icemantoo
Posts: 1452
Joined: Jan 2010

I feel strongly that there is a movement in this country that wants to take us backwords on not only heath insurance, but social security and medicare as well. I also feel strongly that those people do not care about others and to them we are embarking on Socialism. As a Kidney Cancer survivor I believe I have a right to voice my opinion and part of that opinion is the far right (teabaggers) do not care about the common good, only themselves and those wealthy persons who bankroll them. Those persons also brag that they do not believe in compromise. It is to those persons and those who sympathise with them that my comments were directed. No apologies offered.

Icemantoo

icemantoo's picture
icemantoo
Posts: 1452
Joined: Jan 2010

I feel strongly that there is a movement in this country that wants to take us backwords on not only heath insurance, but social security and medicare as well. I also feel strongly that those people do not care about others and to them we are embarking on Socialism. As a Kidney Cancer survivor I believe I have a right to voice my opinion and part of that opinion is the far right (teabaggers) do not care about the common good, only themselves and those wealthy persons who bankroll them. Those persons also brag that they do not believe in compromise. It is to those persons and those who sympathise with them that my comments were directed. No apologies offered.

Icemantoo

MikeK703's picture
MikeK703
Posts: 235
Joined: Sep 2010

None needed. As an American, you have a right to your opinion, kidney cancer survivor or not. I'm not going to get into a political argument as there are more appropriate places for that.

corey50
Posts: 73
Joined: Feb 2009

they are not tea-baggers, but tea partiers.

lbinmsp's picture
lbinmsp
Posts: 266
Joined: Jun 2006

Hi Jamie - thank you! All of us in this RCC family come here for comfort and support as well as looking for answers and suggestions. You make some good points here and have provided good information for many. However, I've seen other sites that veer off onto other 'platforms' and I certainly hope that can be avoided here.

garym's picture
garym
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009

Nothing stirs the fire like politics and religion. I am not affiliated with any particular party and am pretty fed up with government in general. In my opinion until our illustrious "leaders" are no longer exempt from the consequences of the laws and reforms they pen no meaningful progress will ever be made regardless of the issue. The "entitlement" attitude of serve one term and retire with full pay and the best benefits tax payer money can buy is the cancer that eats at our nation from within. It is our fault, we continue to elect these bums. I pray for a voter revolution of epic proportions and hope to live long enough to see it.

Just my 2 cents (and 2 cents ain't worth much anymore),

Gary

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