Find Health Insurance Even If You Have a Preexisting Condition
Starting in 2014, insurers will no longer be able to reject anyone for coverage or charge a higher rate because of a preexisting condition. But until then, it can be frustrating to search for affordable coverage if you have health issues. Find out about all of the options in your area at HealthCare.gov or CoverageForAll.org. Here is a quick take on your best bets:
Group plans can’t reject you because of a prior health problem. If you had coverage through an employer and lost your job, you can usually continue the insurance for up to 18 months through COBRA (you’ll have to pay both the employer’s and the employee’s share of the cost).
You have up to 60 days after you leave your employer to sign up for COBRA. And after you exhaust that coverage -- or if you worked for a small employer that doesn’t offer COBRA -- you can get a “HIPAA-eligible policy.” This coverage varies by state; some states require insurers to provide continuation policies or have a few companies that cover everyone regardless of health.
If you don’t qualify for one of those options, you might be able to get coverage through a state high-risk insurance pool. The state pools that were created by the health care reform law require you to be uninsured for six months before you can sign up. But many states already have their own pools, which may have higher rates but no waiting period.
This article first appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. For more help with your personal finances and investments, please subscribe to the magazine. It might be the best investment you ever make.