SOURCE: Foundation for Health Coverage Education

Foundation for Health Coverage Education

February 03, 2011 13:20 ET

3 Questions to Ask If Your Family Can't Afford Health Insurance

CoverageForAll.org and U.S. Uninsured Help Line Are Available 24/7 to Assist Americans Who Are Uninsured or at Risk of Losing Their Health Coverage

SAN JOSE, CA--(Marketwire - February 3, 2011) - In an effort to help quell the fears of families worried about losing their health insurance coverage after one or both heads-of-household have lost their jobs, the Foundation for Health Coverage Education (FHCE), www.CoverageForAll.org, urges families to ask themselves three questions. This strategy, put together by the FHCE's counselors who answer phones at the 24/7 U.S. Uninsured Help Line (800-234-1317), can help families identify possible safety net options that could allow them to hold onto their current coverage or discover possible public-sponsored health coverage programs available to them. The three questions are as follows. 

1. Do We Qualify for Family Gap Coverage? 
"When a family's income drops, often overlooked is the fact that their new income level may make them eligible for low-cost or no-cost public coverage options," suggests Phil Lebherz, Founder and Executive Director of the FHCE. "In some states, such as New York and New Hampshire, a family of four can make up to $88,000 a year and still qualify for low-cost government health coverage for their children." In addition, all 50 states offer Medicaid coverage to adults who qualify at lower income levels. The FHCE has organized all of these public programs state-by-state on its website, www.CoverageForAll.org, and offers a simplified 5-question Eligibility Quiz for families to receive a personalized list of both the public and private options for which they may qualify. 

2. Can Becoming a Small Business Help Us? 
The FHCE often encourages laid-off individuals, who are consulting or who have started a small enterprise, to apply for health coverage as a small business. In all 50 states, businesses with one or two employees can seek group health coverage, taking advantage of protections offered only to employers. Under group coverage, individuals with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage. Although group coverage rates can be more expensive, a small business can take advantage of new tax credits which make coverage more affordable. Tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums will be available to small businesses with 25 employees or less for tax years 2010-2013, as long as the employer contributes at least 50% of the premium.

3. Can High Risk Pools Help Us? 
For those who have pre-existing medical conditions and have been turned down by private insurers, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a tenet of health care reform, is now offered in every state and covers a broad range of health benefits. One drawback with the federal program, however, is the requirement that an individual be without health insurance for six months in order to qualify. More than 30 states had high risk pools available without this 6-month exclusion period prior to the passage of the PPACA. Although the premiums may be higher than the PCIP, the coverage is worth researching if your family has a history of pre-existing conditions.

Individuals and families with questions about their health coverage options can visit CoverageForAll.org and take a simple 5-Question Eligibility Quiz or call the 24/7 multi-lingual U.S. Uninsured Help Line 800-234-1317 to talk with a health insurance counselor who will review the questions with them. In addition to its toll-free U.S. Uninsured Help Line and CoverageForAll.org, FHCE offers free downloadable consumer guides, such as the Health Care Options Matrix, for all 50 states.

The Foundation for Health Coverage Education (FHCE) is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to help simplify public and private health insurance eligibility information in order for more people to access coverage.

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