Friday, September 14, 2007

Health Insurance Update

We’ve previously listed a number of ways to look for health insurance coverage. See It’s a difficult problem, because there are no easy or inexpensive alternatives (unless your income is quite low, but that isn’t fun either). Here a few more thoughts.

1. Eligibility website. A website at can help you determine whether or not you are eligible for various types of health insurance coverage, and what your options might be. Click on the “Eligibility Tool” at the top of the home page. You’ll have to answer a few questions about prior coverage, income, age, health, and any special status you might have, and then you’ll be given advice. The website may help you locate coverage about which you might not have known. You can also call 1-800-234-1317 for assistancfe.

2. Individual Policies. Some health insurance companies are now making greater effort to offer plans for individuals. The ranks of the uninsured are growing every year, which means the insurers’ customer base in employer group policies is shrinking. So the insurers are reaching out to new customers. Also, they no doubt realize that the more people are uninsured, the greater the potential for government intervention that might take their business away. That could happen anyway, since many of the individual policies offered tend to target young people. These policies may also have high deductibles and significant limitations on coverage (maternity care may not be covered, and if you or your spouse is pregnant, that’s a whopping huge limitation). But if you have no other good choices, this is something to consider. The big health insurers like Blue Cross, Aetna, Humana and Kaiser Permanente may be worth contacting.

3. HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requires, among other things, that individuals who have at least 18 months of coverage under a group plan must be accepted for coverage in individual plans without limitations for pre-existing conditions. The individual must have been covered by the group plan within the last 63 days. A person covered under COBRA rights by a prior employer also has the right under HIPAA to individual coverage without limitation for pre-existing conditions. If you’re going to lose group coverage, remember your HIPAA rights and make sure you continue your health insurance coverage.

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