Wednesday, August 31, 2011

COBRA Subsidy Ends Today

For people who were unemployed in or before May 2010, the federal government has been helping to pay their COBRA premium so they could keep their health insurance. However, today that money runs out, and many thousands of people will become unable to afford their health insurance. If they have a pre-existing condition, they may have nowhere to go. If they exhausted their COBRA, they are what's called HIPAA eligible as long as they enroll in a guaranteed issue plan with no more than a 63 day break in coverage. The guaranteed issue plan differs from state to state. If you need to know yours, email me your state at (after we move, so I have access to a computer to look it up). Your only other option will be the new Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, which is good and relatively affordable, but you have to go without insurance for six months in order to qualify. To find details about the PCIP in your state, go here.

If none of that works, you will have to piece together a patchwork quilt of coverage. You can find federally qualified health centers that are free or on a sliding scale by inputting your address here, which will give you a list of the clinics near you. To apply to get medication for free, go here, choose either brand name or generic, and then find your medication by letter of the alphabet. If you have to go to a hospital, try to go to a nonprofit (affiliated with an educational or religious organization or a governmental unit, like a county) and ask for the financial aid application. You may get your care for free, or at least on a discounted basis.

All of this changes in 2014, when health reform takes full effect and you can get help to pay for your insurance premium, and there are no more pre-existing condition exclusions. Assuming President Obama is re-elected and health reform is not repealed, of course. Jennifer

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