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. 



5 comments:

  1. Not an easy situation to be in. I do know that many hospitals have programs that offer assistance. For example our daughter and son in law had a baby this year and a very expensive ER visit. They both work and have insurance, after my son in laws ER visit and after insurance paid its share they still had to come up with $5000, they had 90 days to pay it in full, they could not fit that kind of payment into their budget. They called the hospital and explained and were initially told to go get a loan, the hospital could recommend a bank with low interest. But then they got a call back and were told that they qualified for assistance from a fund the hospital has set up, it picked up the balance they owed after insurance, and covered their entire family for the rest of the year, a few months later they had their third child and the balance due after insurance was taken care of by the hospital. I was really surprised by this, they are not low income to where they qualify for any govt. benefits or anything, but they did qualify for the private assistance the non profit hospital has.
    My sons friend did not have insurance and had appendicitis, he qualified for assistance from a private fund the hospital had set up.
    Although these type of things do NOT help with prescription costs or regular doctor visits, sometimes it is best to ask if the pharmacy or doctor has any special pricing if you do not have insurance and you are willing to pay cash.
    Our insurance has no co pay for prescriptions, thankfully we do not take any regular medications, however when my daughter needed a prescription filled I called all of the pharmacies close by and was shocked to find that I could fill it for as little as $44 or as much as $75, just depended on the pharmacy. One of our local groceries has a list of common medications that they dispense at no cost.
    Some doctor offices will work with you if you do not have insurance. SOme drug companies offer assistance to purchase prescriptions for ongoing medical issues.
    But, mostly you are in a tough situation right now and I am sure it is a bit worrisome.
    I will keep you in my prayers, and do all you can do to eat healthy, exercise and maintain a healthy weight.
    Blessings to you,

    Bean

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  2. When you are older Medicare is great. First SS at 62 and then Medicare and a Medicare provider at 65. We shopped around as you have above and have a program where we get vision, dental and hearing, but don't get to choose our doctors. Still the savings are significant.

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  3. My hubby and I lost our health insurance when he lost his job and we haven't been able to afford to get insurance on our own.
    But when I had to go see the doctor recently - s apecialist because I have a chronic illness - I found out that he offers a 30% discount if you don't have insurance and you can pay upfront. It was still expensive because he was a specialist but saving 30% really helps out!

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  4. If it’s already a burden for you paying your regular insurance deductions, I think you should consider quitting your current plan and try applying for another. You could start by looking for other health insurance brokers. And I’m sure you’ll be able to find a plan in which the terms suit your lifestyle and economic standing better. It doesn’t really matter how much you could only afford to pay, what matters most is that you have something to hold on for your health and financial security in the future. :)

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  5. We had Kaiser and switched at 65 to Kaiser Senior Advantage Plus. They have regular Sr. Advantage and also offer the Plus. The plus is for an extra $20 a month you get some dental and eye glasses and hearing aid help. You set it up so medicare takes out the low monthly fee to be on it. You have to pay the $20 monthly yourself. We have co pays on some things others do not on the plan they decided to get other than Kaiser. We pay for some tests others don't on their plans but then we do not pay for other things that on theirs they have to. It is a change out. Helen

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