Saturday, August 7, 2010
The Hunt For Medical Insurance
Finding yourself in limbo regarding medical insurance coverage? It is not a good place to be.
Depending on how much you want to spend is not the problem. It is getting coverage for individuals, period.
If you are not part of a group, if you don't own a company and are incorporated, or if you are not a sole proprietor, there isn't much hope to find good coverage.
All my research is based on living in New York, where going to doctors is expensive to begin with.
You can start searching for plans using the website: www.ehealthinsurance.com. You input the information requested and in seconds, you can see what is available. What you find are a few plans, either Indemnity, PPO or HMO's. For those not familiar with an Indemnity plan, they function as "fee for service." You go to any doctor you choose, the insurance company pays a set amount of the total charge. You may have pay up front and then you apply for reimbursement. You would have to check to see if these cover specific doctors because I don't trust anything without asking exact questions. There are high annual deductibles and you do much of the paperwork.
Finding names of doctors you may already know or have heard of could be difficult on some of these plans.
And to add insult to injury, two plans which are Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, have not signed contracts with at least two hospitals I know of and the number could be higher. Maybe this will change over time, but for the present time, it is another roadblock.
You can go to: www.healthyny.com, for small business and working individuals, but unless you are earning very little and have limited savings or a limited source of other income, don't bother to apply. Check all the requirements to be sure.
If you are a recent college graduate, try a type of Gap Insurance until you land a job by looking at: www.gradmed.com.
There is a website: www.nahu.org, National Association of Health Underwriters, to help you navigate plans and find an agent.
If you do freelance work and earn at least $10,000 in a 6 month period and have the documentation to prove your earnings, you may be eligible for insurance from: www.freelancersunion.org. I obtained the name of this organization from an insurance broker whom could not offer any other solution for "individual" insurance. This organization was also mentioned in a Business Week article from October 13, 2008.
This is a start, although not an easy task. You can easily see why so many people in the United States are not insured.