Thursday, June 7, 2012

Without a Net

In my transition from Illinois to Arizona, I have lost my health insurance.  The insurance I had in Illinois after my COBRA expired was a high risk pool sponsored by the state.  Having been declined for individual health insurance, I was eligible to apply for this safety net provided to full-time residents of Illinois.  My coverage was through Blue Cross Blue Shield, and we paid about $560 a month for it.  For Ron’s individual policy, we paid another $325 per month.  Each of us had a $2500 annual deductable.  Do a little math and you can guess that health care has been a substantial percentage of our expenses in retirement. 

Thirty-five states have high risk pools – Arizona is not one of those.  Now full-time residents of Arizona, I just sent in the cancellation notice for my Illinois insurance.  I applied for individual coverage in Arizona, and have been declined.  So now what?

The Obama administration’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, AKA “Obamacare”, will be my safety net.  Although a very imperfect bill (yes, I read the whole dang thing), it will provide the option I need to secure health insurance in this long gap I am in before being eligible for Medicare.  Obamacare requires states without high risk pools to provide them to people who prove that they cannot otherwise obtain health insurance.

But…in order to be eligible for Arizona’s high risk pool, I have to be uninsured for six months.  This is a condition of entry into the plan that, frankly, I do not understand.  I prepared as well as I could for this period, by seeing my doctor and having a check-up, making sure my prescriptions are current, and having a colonoscopy.  All I need to do now is make it through six months without a major incident.  I am very scared that my situation has put me and Ron at great financial risk.

I’m writing about this for several reasons.  (1) If you have group health insurance through an employer – appreciate it.  You cannot be denied coverage, and most employers pay fifty percent or more of your actual health care costs.  (2) Your health is precious.  Any health issues become part of your history and until Obamacare is fully implemented in 2014, could result in you not being able to obtain insurance.  Finally, (3) You must consider and plan for your health insurance needs in retirement.  There are many resources available online that will clarify the situation and explain your options.

If the federal health care law is ruled as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, I may be without my safety net for much longer than six months.  It doesn’t seem right that I can’t obtain health insurance, even though I can afford to pay for it.  Health care reform outside of Obamacare probably wouldn’t come soon enough for me.

Wish me good health!

1 comment:

  1. I wish you GREAT health. It's a scary scenario for you and we'll pray you stay healthy, happy and full of life! Give Ron my love and good wishes. Felicia