Affordable Health Insurance
Get Proactive to Find Affordable Health Insurance
In the midst of the most serious economic downturn since the Great Depression, Americans are hearing frightening words like "bankruptcy" and "foreclosure" with alarming frequency. What most people don't know, especially the more than 40 million citizens who have no health coverage , is that unresolved medical expenses constitute the single most prevalent reason for personal bankruptcy in this country. There are likely many things you cannot afford in the current recession, but health coverage isn't one of them.
Businesses, especially small "Mom and Pop" endeavors are looking at the bottom line for 2009 and deciding what can be cut. Benefits will likely be the first thing to go with layoffs to follow, raising the specter of an additional 40 million Americans experiencing a break in their health coverage for a period of months or years to come. This situation will inevitably shift the responsibility for seeking coverage to individuals who may have no idea how to find affordable health insurance policies. As with all matters relative to insurance, the first thing to do is to research the facts and understand the law. Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases, time will be on your side. Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), workers who lose their jobs can maintain health coverage through their former employer's plan for up to 18 months. That's more than enough time to weigh options and to find reasonable, low costs replacement coverage.
Since most families do not have a health savings account; in this endeavor, the Internet is an invaluable tool. As a bottom line position, a family of four in good health can expect to find a medical plan with a deductible of roughly $1,000 for monthly payments of approximately $400. Such plans generally include co-payments on doctor's visits of $30 and on generic drugs of $10. (Remember, the higher the deductible the policy holder is willing to assume, the lower the monthly payments will be.) Applicants will need to answer health questions, to open their health records for examination, and to potentially undergo a new physical examination. Do not rule out short-term coverage if the prospects for re-employment are good. Normally short-term coverage of six months or so will be less expensive because the policies do not cover existing medical conditions and offer less in terms of reimbursement.
After researching coverage online, consumers should take the quotes they receive to a physical insurance agency and be prepared to bargain. Even if you do not go with the agent's offer, it is likely that you will learn useful information about potential riders to your policy. Bear in mind, however, that insurers are looking for business in this tough economy as well and it is entirely possibly that through shrewd negotiation, you may get a better rate. Also, consider your membership in various professional groups -- even alumni associations -- and see if you qualify for coverage at a low rate as a benefit of your affiliation.
Through careful research and a willingness to bargain, it is perfectly possible to find affordable, comprehensive coverage. The one thing you cannot afford to do, however, is to simply let your coverage lapse or to take the first rate that is offered. Without national health care coverage, the consumer's only safeguard against disastrous medical expenses is proactive personal intervention to ensure your coverage doesn't lapse and that you aren't paying more than you can afford and more than is reasonable.