May 25, 2010Insurance Directoryby EconomyWatch

Health Insurance Guide

At its simplest, health insurance is an agreement made between a person and an insurance company. The person, or the insured, must pay a regular fee (called a premium) to the insurance company. In return, the insurance company will pay all or (usually) some medical expenses needed when the insured becomes injured, ill, or otherwise hospitalized

Health insurance is critical, especially to those living in areas where the costs of hospitalization are high. Most developed nations offer government subsidized medical care, which makes it less critical to have health insurance.

In the US, however, medical care is exteremly expensive, and is not paid for by the government. Therefore, it is wise for all Americans living in the US to have good health insurance policies.

Health insurance can be bought on an individual basis or on a group basis. Health insurance bought on a group structure usually is through an employer, as many employers provide health insurance coverage to their employees. And this is now becoming a big problem for Americans, with unemployment running so high; if you lose your job, not only do you lose your income - you are often also left without health coverage as well.

Double Trouble: Losing Your Job And Health Insurance

Losing your job and becoming unemployed in any economy is never easy. For many people, in fact for most people, losing your job also means losing your health insurance coverage. The effect on the family can be devastating. Not only has an income been lost, but replacing the health insurance coverage for the family without an income as a double negative effect. As job losses continue to mount, the number of people who find themselves in this situation is staggering.

While the debate on healthcare reform continues to rage on, relief for those affected and who fall victim to the health care crisis, won't be coming anytime soon. People who are affected by this crisis need to be proactive about securing health insurance for themselves and for their families. There are some short-term strategies that you can apply if you find yourself in this situation.

The ideal situation if indeed you lost your health insurance, would be to be added to your spouses health insurance policy. That being said, this option is not available to everyone. Your second option would be to enroll in COBRA. What is cobra? COBRA, The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act is a federal law that was passed in 1986 to require companies with 20 or more employees to continue offering health insurance at group rates to former employees and their family members. The coverage can be extended to 18 months from the time you leave your job. If the company that you were employed by goes out of business, they are not required to provide COBRA coverage. Finally your third option is to search for an insurance policy on your own.

For many people the cost of continuing coverage through COBRA is prohibitive. Employers generally pay a percentage of the cost of family health coverage for their employees. If you lose your job, you are on the hook for the full amount. Since you just lost your job and your income being able to afford COBRA, isn't really an option.

Even the most disciplined of persons, who saved money for the rainy day that they are now experiencing, this is difficult. Health insurance premiums can quickly wipe out an emergency fund long before you either find another job or the 18 months that you can qualify for COBRA expires.

One of the benefits of COBRA is that you can be rejected because of your health. So for those with pre-existing medical conditions COBRA becomes the best option, because affordable health insurance coverage is generally not readily available for pre-existing conditions. The key is affordable health insurance coverage. There are many insurance companies who will cover pre-existing conditions if you are willing to pay exorbitant premiums and accept exclusions in your policy.

As for the second option of being added to a spouses health insurance plan, this is a great way to deal with the loss of your health coverage. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have an option of choosing between two health insurance policies. However, if you do have an option like this, you would do well to take advantage.

The third option of shopping for individual policy on your own is the scenario most people have to deal with. Affordable health insurance coverage is as difficult to find as any insurance coverage on the market. Again you are dealing with no income and potentially creating another family budget expense. The key to finding affordable coverage is diligence in your shopping.

If you are healthy and young you should not have any trouble finding health coverage. If you are older and have pre-existing conditions, you may be forced to reduce coverages in order to afford the premium. If you are rejected by private insurers most states offer high-risk pools. Again, the premiums for such coverage will not be inexpensive.

Choose from a list of health insurance companies that provide coverage in your area. Decide whether you want to shop for the coverage on your own or to employ the services of an insurance broker. An insurance broker generally represents several companies and knows the markets and what is available in the way of insurance coverages. Insurance brokers are very helpful in this regard. Essentially you can let the insurance broker do all the work and all that would be left for you is to choose a company based on your needs.

Shopping for health insurance coverage online has made it somewhat easier for individuals to compare and choose the best policies for their families. She gets a health insurance coverage that you are trying to buy is a stopgap type coverage until you get another job, you may consider getting health coverage that will pay for catastrophic illnesses. The more expenses that you are able to pay for out-of-pocket, the less premium you can expect to pay for health coverage.

As you can see the victims of job loss sometimes suffer double trouble, losing their health insurance coverage as well. These will be most stressful times for you and your family. In the United States it is estimated that 25 million people are without health insurance coverage. That number is more or less depending on whom you obtain your data from. The remedy for seems to be sometime in the future. Until then, individuals will have to be diligent, frugal, and creative to find affordable health insurance quotes or coverage for themselves and their families.


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