If You Lose Your Coverage . . .

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lost your employer health insurance? Consider these tips:

· If your spouse has a separate plan, act quickly to get on it.

· Ask about your COBRA rights. With some exceptions, laid-off workers can continue their coverage for 18 months by paying its full cost. (Congress is considering a temporary, 65 percent premium subsidy.)

· If COBRA coverage isn't an affordable option, explore non-group plans. Make sure that any coverage meets the requirements to protect you against preexisting condition exclusions in the future. State rules vary.

· Check out public insurance programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP, and community clinics. If you're not eligible now, you might be later. Local health and social services departments may be helpful resources.

· When paying out-of-pocket for care, try to negotiate lower charges with doctors and hospitals.

SOURCES: Interviews with consumer advocates, insurance experts

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