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Health Care & Insurance

Your Insurance Problems Solved

Here's what to do if your drug is no longer covered, if you're sick and need insurance, and if your teen driver needs an auto policy.

To protect your financial well-being, you need insurance. That's why we frequently get questions about how to find the right coverage at the right price. See some of the common questions below.

Help! My drug is no longer covered.

Can I get insurance if I'm sick?

Should I buy my teens their own car insurance?

Help! My Drug is No Longer Covered

Every insurer has an appeals process. With the help of your doctor's office, you can ask your health plan to let you stay on your preferred medications and pay in-network prices. "Cancer docs fight this battle all the time," says Steven Findlay, managing editor of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, which provides price reviews and reports on prescription medications.

If your appeal is denied, go to Rxaminer.com to find the lowest-cost provider of your brand-name drugs. Consumer Reports found that big discount stores, such as Wal-Mart and Target, and online pharmacies affiliated with drugstore chains, such as CVS.com, tend to charge the least.

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Or go with the less- expensive generic version of your medication. In a Consumer Reports survey, Costco warehouse stores and Costco's Web site had the lowest prices for generics. You don't have to pay Costco's annual $50 membership fee to fill your prescriptions there. -- Thomas M. Anderson

Can I Get Insurance if I'm Sick?

Yes. If you're on your own, start by working with a health-insurance broker. Prices and rules vary enormously among insurers, so get price quotes at eHealthInsurance.com (or call 800-977-8860 if you need to explain a medical condition), or find a broker in your area at www.nahu.org.

If you're rejected, don't give up. In 33 states, high-risk pools must accept people who have been rejected elsewhere (see www.naschip.org). "Guaranteed issue" states -- New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts -- require insurers to cover everyone regardless of their medical condition, which leads to very expensive insurance for younger, healthier individuals but provides an option for people with health problems.

Even in states that don't offer high-risk pools or guaranteed-issue policies, you have alternatives if you're coming from an eligible group policy and have exhausted coverage under the federal COBRA law. Contact your state insurance department for its consumer-protection rules (see our Insurance page for links). -- Kimberly Lankford

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Should I Buy My Teens Their Own Car Insurance?

Put them on your policy. The base rate is usually lower, and your multi-car or multi-policy discount can cut rates by another 15%. Your child can earn extra discounts for good grades or a driver-safety course. Use the savings to boost the liability limits on your auto policy, and consider paying about $200 per year for an umbrella policy to raise your family's auto and homeowners coverage to $1 million.