Uninsured? Consider these options

Meet Janice, a 42-year-old woman who has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for the past 12 years. Janice fairs remarkably well; she holds down a job, is raising two boys, stays active in her church and does it all with a smile. To look at her you wouldn’t think there’s a thing wrong. Get to know Janice as a friend and you will get an up close and personal look at the trials of a woman who struggles from time to time with severe bouts of fatigue, numbness, double vision, and worry. As if the burden of chronic illness were not enough, Janice walks a financial tight rope trying to figure out ways to pay for her sometimes expensive medical care.

You guessed it. Janice falls in the ranks of several million Americans who are uninsured due to illness or loss of work. Having lived in that spot for three years following a run in with chronic Lyme disease I can tell you it’s a substantial worry. One hospitalization without insurance can wipe out a life savings, a solid credit rating, and everything you have worked so hard to achieve.

There are policies available for the uninsurable; the cost is usually prohibitive averaging four to five hundred dollars monthly. The policies come with deductibles of one to two thousand dollars, very limited or no drug coverage and no coverage for office visits. For most individuals these policies are simply not affordable.

There are some options out there but you will have to bird dog it out. Whether you find yourself newly uninsured due to loss of work or uninsurable due to chronic illness here are some options you may want to consider.

Many sudden hospitalizations are due to serious traffic accidents. Consider adding more major medical hospitalization insurance to your car insurance. Most companies will offer added major medical, $50,000 or more for a few extra dollars per month.

Temporary major medical insurance is a new option that is not terribly expensive and available with your signature. No physicals necessary. Yes there is a catch. You can purchase temporary insurance a month at a time or up to six months at a time. Let’s say you have a heart attack while covered with temporary insurance. They will cover the usual 80/20 portion after the deductible is satisfied but, when it comes time to renew your insurance any further illnesses related to your heart will be considered a pre-existing condition and will not be covered. Not the best but certainly better than no insurance at all.

Our friend Janice opts to hire nurses to come into her home to administer IV treatments and monitor her progress rather than going to the hospital. She recently told me her last hospitalization cost $6,000. The same in home treatment cost a few hundred dollars and works well for her.

Some drug companies in fear of large government controlled price monopolies are offering drugs to those who can’t pay for as little as $15 for a 30-day supply. Other companies are offering drugs in limited amounts to those who can’t pay free of charge. Your doctor can help you with the necessary forms or you check with the pharmaceutical companies for more information.

Most county health departments and some hospitals offer free screenings and other basic tests free to those who cannot afford a visit to the doctor. Some county health departments offer much more including pap smears, mammograms, cholesterol checks, PSA, and colon cancer screening at no charge.

Most importantly, do everything you can to take care of your health. If you’re heavy, lose weight, stop smoking, eat right, exercise and stay positive. In other words take responsibility for your health. The pocketbook you save just may be your own.

Till next time, Rebecca