Your source for the latest on Health care reform.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Retiring with no Health Insurance benefits

I had someone call me today who was a retiree asking what happens between the time I retire and turn 65 with no Health insurance pension benefits.

Well, there are quite a few options. First, If you have major prexisting conditions:

* Take the Cobra option for as long as you can (usually 18 months) if you have major pre-existing conditions especially if you have cancer, heart problems, diabetes, back issues and blood disorders. Getting a private individual plan will be difficult but not impossible. Some insurance companies have limited benefit plans for those major pre-existing conditions.

If your Cobra runs out:

Ohio - Has Hippa plans which they enroll a certain amount of individuals at a time even if they have major pre-existing conditions.

Kentucky - Has Kentucky Access if they are denied by a private insurer for pre-existing conditions.

Some insurance companies will offer Group conversion plans which will cover pre-existing companies but the premiums will be high, if not higher than Cobra.

* Take a short term plan if all else fails. Every state has them and they range from 6 months to a year. Although it won't cover you for your pre-existing conditions it will cover you for catastrophic coverage such as accidents.

Friday, March 12, 2010

How can I lower my premiums?

Someone emailed me today and asked how can I lower my healh insurance premiums? Good question.

1.) If you have individual coverage and not group, then odds are you have a renewal each year. In the past 10 years Health care plans have gone up an average of 10%. Some this year have gone up as much as 40%. Ask your company if they have risk evaluations to lower your premiums. If you're in good health, then you may get a lower risk tier with your company.

2.) Shop around - If you don't have too many pre-existing conditions, then shop around and find the best value. Let an independent broker do the leg work and make him find the best rates with a similar plan you have now by doing a comparative analysis with different companies. Or if your plan is weak in benefits, shop for better benefits. Health Savings accounts have the most affordable premiums right now with most insurance companies.

3.) Raise your deductible. Although this will expose you more financially in the event of a catastrophic illness or accident your premiums will obviously be reduced. Be careful, if you try to go back to an original deductible with your insurance company you might be denied because of pre-existing conditions.

4.) If you have a group plan, then generally you'll have to check with your company to see what other affordable plans are offered during open enrollment or shop for individual plans and see if your employer will compensate by going the individual route. Some will.

Good luck

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cobra Extension

The COBRA extension date ended on February 28, 2010. Congress had passed legislation in December 2009 to extend the subsidy of helping to pay 65% of the Cobra premiums for individuals and families who were laid off involuntarily. However, President Barack Obamas new budget proposal would extend it again until the end of 2010.

For those seeking alternatives many private insurance plans will still be less than the cost of COBRA but you'll have to shop around to find the best bargains. Contacting a broker who can make comparison analysis to find the best plans and rates is the best bet. Some plans will cover individuals who were otherwise denied by private insurers can find alternatives to cover pre-existing conditions. Ohio Hippa is still accepting individuals for this type coverage. A few companies have limited benefits access plans to cover those with major pre-existing conditions. In Kentucky, Kentucky access will accept individuals who have been denied for pre-existing conditions.

Family and friends ask me everyday what is going to happen in health care reform. At this point, nobody knows but all indications of a public option seem to be long odds. Tax subsidies, portable coverage across state lines, tort reform are all options on the table at this point as are a myriad of different ways to cover individuals.