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05/19/2008

Health Insurance or No Health Insurance?

According to an article published on http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com, "The more than 46 million Americans without (health insurance) coverage will get sick more, earn less and die earlier than those with insurance."

These are sobering facts, yet a reality for many uninsured and underinsured Americans.

There is a variety of reasons why people have to forego health insurance, or are uninsured.

First, quality health insurance is expensive, and sometimes people simply cannot afford the premiums. Other times, it is because they left a job that provided insurance coverage. Pre-existing conditions excluded folks from coverage from by some carriers as well.

Regardless of the reason, an unexpected or serious health problem can significantly affect your financial situation at any time.

If you are without health insurance, take comfort in the fact that all is not lost. There are a handful of options out there that can help.

Do Your Homework

It is well worth your while to do a little looking around for low-income government-funded offers and programs--such as Medicare or Medicaid--for which you may qualify (note that the guidelines may vary from state to state).

Search for area community health centers and learn more about their offered services. Many provide routine and diagnostic care for free, or at a very low cost.

Children of low-income families, generally in a family of four with income up to $34,100 a year, may find coverage under state-sponsored programs. ALL Kids (Alabama), Minnesota Department of Human Services (Minnesota), CHIP-Children's Medicaid (Texas), The Delaware Healthy Children Program (Delaware) and the Healthy Connections Plans (South Carolina) are just a few of the many out there.

If you live with your parents or are supported by family members, you may be able to get coverage under their policy.

It could be beneficial to consider your specific health issues individually, and look for discounts or service alternatives.

For example, for dental care, call local dental schools where services--performed by students while supervised by licensed dental personnel--cost much less than those in a regular dental office.

Pharmaceutical companies sometimes offer assistance programs for prescriptions, and you can receive free screenings at charity or disease awareness functions, for everything from heart problems to family planning and ethnicity-prominent illnesses.

Healthcare premium discounts may also be available if tied to your auto, home or life insurance. In fact, some companies offer significant discounts for multi-insurance plans.

Unfortunately, some medical providers charge the uninsured rates that are significantly higher than those charged to privately insured patients. But, if you ask and are a good negotiator, you may be able to work out a discount for cash payments, or agree to installment payments whether the costs are discounted or not.

Lastly, consider taking a short-term coverage policy if you are between jobs, or a high deductible policy where even though out-of-pocket medical costs are usually higher, it will protect against devastating medical bills.

There may be obstacles out there, but there are many options that can provide a great deal of relief.

Lysa Allman-Baldwin possesses over 12 years of experience as a Freelance Writer. Her feature articles covering a wide variety of topics appear regularly in several print and on-line publications.





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