Thursday, August 30, 2012

When you can't afford medical insurance

I've been thinking a lot about medical insurance lately. To be specific, I've been wondering how I can continue to pay $480 a month if I no longer have a job or my hours are cut. Our budget is very tight with no wiggle room.

A year ago,when my husband became disabled, we were paying $999.65 a month for medical insurance. The high cost was the main reason we had to sell our homes. We had a choice to make.. either keep the medical insurance or our homes. My husband was seeing a Dr. regularly so there was no way we could cut the insurance. Our prescription cost was $100 a month. So, we sold our home and our rental and moved into my aunt's barn studio. Eventually he was granted disability. This past April he was eligible for Medicare which meant we could cancel his private health insurance.

We did stumble on (by God's providence) a few programs that have really helped us during these lean financial years.

The first thing we did when our income dropped (before Kevin's disability) was to change providers. We originally had Blue Cross and our monthly premium was $1400 a month for 2. We switched to Kaiser and it dropped our monthly premium in half. Of course, each year our monthly premium rose by nearly $100 but we still paid less than originally.  I had heard 'horror stories' about Kaiser but we had no choice. I'm here to say that we've been very pleased with the service we've received from Kaiser.

Secondly, I had read online that most hospitals offer a financial assistance program. I contacted Kaiser and they did indeed have a Medical Financial Assistance Program. We qualified within their income range which meant that Kaiser paid all of our medical copay's and prescription costs. This was a very huge blessing. We were still paying nearly $1,000 a month for our premium but at least we had some relief on the copay's.

Lastly, we discovered that the county we presently reside in has a Medical Financial Program through a local county hospital. They provide tests, prescriptions, office visits, ER for free of cost if your income is low enough. They have other programs (with a reduced copay) even if you are not considered at poverty level.

The hard part is when you are not low income and yet you still can not qualify for financial assistance. We lived that way for many years when our children were young. Thankfully, the Lord granted us good heath during those years.

I don't like the idea of asking for help. I wish I didn't have to. But, I'm very thankful that there are programs to help in times of need.