Why Temporary Health Insurance Is a Must

By: healthia
A major attraction of being a fulltime employee at an American company is the security of health coverage. As the cost of health insurance has skyrocketed in the past 60 years, insurance coverage provided by employers who enjoy tax benefits for giving health benefits to their workers has helped foster loyalty and reduced the stress of thousands of American employees.

Just how high those skyrocketing insurance costs really are becomes painfully apparent when someone loses a job. COBRA, which stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, requires insurance companies to continue to make their plans available to people who have left a group policy due to unemployment. But when you sign up for COBRA, you suddenly find yourself paying much more than what you were paying at the time you were employed. This is at the same time that you have probably lost your primary source of income. The national average cost per family for COBRA is more than $500 a month, the price of rent in many cities. For a relatively healthy person who rarely visits a doctor, the cost of COBRA may seem unacceptably high.

Hindsight is 20/20, however, and thousands of people who have opted not to have insurance because of its costs have lived to regret it. In fact, every 30 seconds someone in the United States files for bankruptcy following a major medical emergency. Many of them found themselves sick or injured without insurance. Fortunately, an inexpensive alternative to COBRA exists that can fill in the gaps between jobs. Temporary low-cost health insurance typically has a much higher deductible than COBRA, but also very affordable rates. It's possible to receive coverage in a matter of days, if not hours.

While the affordable prices are attractive, it's important to remember that temporary low-cost health insurance is considered a "stop gap" for individuals who are between jobs that normally provide healthcare benefits. These policies have not been designed as a long-term solution.

Who generally purchases short-term temporary health insurance? Purchasers include people a)Who have left a company for another job or were laid off b)Are about to graduate from college and need a plan to cover them after they leave the Ivory Tower c)Who are spouses waiting for coverage from a wife or husband d)Who are coming off parents health plans as a dependent e)Who are now working part time or as temporary workers f)Who are waiting for permanent health insurance to begin

Who Qualifies?
If you're healthy, you likely qualify for temporary low-cost health insurance. You probably don't qualify if you are someone who has a pre-existing condition, is over the age of 65 or who has been rejected for insurance before. Pre-existing conditions are generally defined as any condition or symptom which you had during the 36-month period prior to the start of coverage.

How They Work
Many temporary low-cost health insurance policies apply on a per-illness or per-injury basis. You will likely be required to pay a deductible, with your insurance company paying some portion of the next $5,000 in healthcare expenses, before 100 percent coverage takes effect. Plan maximums are typically $1 million to $2 million. Healthcare expenses ranging from emergency services to prescription drugs to surgeries to hospital care are typically covered by the policies.

How Long They Last
Generally, the holder of a temporary low-cost health insurance policy should plan on having the policy a year or less. Some policies do last up to 36 months. Many policies allow people to renew after the policy has run its course, but usually customers are limited to renewing a policy only once.

If You Don't Qualify
If you do have a pre-existing condition, it's unlikely you will qualify for short-term low-cost health insurance. But it's still too dangerous to function without some kind of insurance. Your best bet may be to apply for a low-income health insurance plan. However, only certain groups qualify:Seniors 65 and older: Medicare, a health insurance program of the federal government, covers this group. Pregnant women: Medicaid is usually available, depending on a woman's income and family size.Young adults under 19 and children: The United States typically does not allow children to go uninsured. Programs including dental, vision, substance abuse counseling and basic medical coverage are available across the U.S.The disabled: Medicare covers this group.
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