Help me get covered
January 3, 2013 11:42 AM   Subscribe

I'm unemployed, and have not had health insurance for about 3 years. What are my best options for finding a plan that fits my needs?

I'm 32, and have no major health issues or complications. The only prescription medication I take is birth control, which I've obtained through consultations at Planned Parenthood. PP does not carry the brand of pill I need to use, and the generic version currently costs me about $55/month at Target - the cheapest I could find after calling around.

I would like to find some kind of insurance certainly for emergency situations, since my day-to-day medical costs are low (I did get fully checked out when I was insurance a few years ago - the only issues I face and have been diagnosed with, are a number of food allergies - none of which are life threatening).

I have no idea how to begin to find plans that might work for me.

I am in the US, and in the state of Virginia (for now).

Throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you're unemployed, you may be eligible for Medicaid or Medicaid-managed care. I don't know how it is handled where you live (here it is on the city level) so hopefully someone will come along with more info on it.
posted by griphus at 11:45 AM on January 3, 2013

I have used Humana for several years. A plan with a very high deductible, say $5-10,000 is what you need. In addition to being a safeguard against calamity, you also get a discount Rx card.
posted by nedpwolf at 12:00 PM on January 3, 2013

Check out eHealthInsurance.
posted by KathrynT at 12:08 PM on January 3, 2013

Look into Plan First for family planning coverage.
posted by SugarAndSass at 12:11 PM on January 3, 2013

I have Blue Cross/Blue Shield and so far it's ok. I picked them because they offered a very high deductible, but then comprehensive coverage after the deductible is met.

If you are a USAA member, they have an agreement with Assurant Health to offer health insurance to their members. I looked into that before signing up with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, but found that (surprisingly) the USAA/Assurant Health was not nearly as good a deal.

For me, I went to the BC/BS Texas website (they are divided by state) and filled out their form. They ask a lot of questions on that form, going back 5-10 years, so I gave them the info I remembered but if I forgot a detail then I typed that in (for example, a doctor's street address from 10 years ago, that kind of thing). They call you to get more details, and then they process your payment. In a few days, your cards come in the mail. Every month you pay and you have insurance -- there's no contract or whatever that locks you in for a period of time. It's pretty straight-forward.

Be aware that there are "limited benefit" plans out there, and (in my opinion) those are complete crap. Basically they will cover some things but only up to a limit. For example (based on one that I saw), they will cover a hospital room, but only up to $125/day. Or a surgeon, but only $1000 per surgery. And then on top of that, they may have a limit on how much total they will pay out. I recommend steering clear of those plans.

I've read here and elsewhere (for example) that you'll get totally spammed if you sign up at eHealthInsurance, so maybe be careful about what email address you give them, if you visit that website.
posted by Houstonian at 12:42 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Advice: persistently look for options for medical care. The safety net definitely sucks, but some states/cities have better public health infrastructures than others and do not necessarily require that you be eligible for Medicaid in order to qualify for services. Start with this list of free clinics in Virginia.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:59 PM on January 3, 2013

You might try Insweb for a quote, and good on you for getting insurance. If you end up in an emergency room for any reason (sick, car accident, severe food allergy) you will go bankrupt without health insurance.
posted by cnc at 1:03 PM on January 3, 2013

Also, find a community health center near you.
posted by Wordwoman at 2:01 PM on January 3, 2013

I have no idea how to begin to find plans that might work for me.

As it happens, this is exactly what the ACA health insurance exchanges are intended for. By law, they need to be in place next January 1, whether they're run by your state, the federal government, or a combination.

I'm not saying you should wait until then, but it is an option.

you will go bankrupt without health insurance.

Not necessarily, and even if that happens, bankruptcy is not the worst thing in the world. You can even keep your car and house in most situations, if those are your major assets. If there's anything the last four years have shown us, it's that economic calamity is scarily pretty normal.

In any case, Virginia does not cover single working-age adults under Medicaid, exactly -- but they do have a program called Plan First, which is for birth control specifically. I'd look into that regardless of what other insurance options you pursue.

I'm able to use the Badgercare Core Plan (in, natch, Wisconsin), which is a pale echo of the near-universal health insurance available in e.g. Massachusetts, but is much better than nothing at all. (I'm diabetic, so I can't reasonably go without.) I would really start with a community health center and get an appointment with a case worker/counselor who can point you in the right direction -- they'll know what's available for people in your situation.
posted by dhartung at 1:21 AM on January 4, 2013

For your birth control, check out canadian pharmacies. I personally use and save a lot of money because my insurance doesn't fully cover the pill i take.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:24 AM on January 4, 2013

One important thing to look for is how many doctors in your area will ACCEPT any potential insurance you may get. The city I'm in, Blue Cross is accepted many more places than Humana, so I went with BC. Nthing getting a high deductible thoughts being if something catastrophic happens, I'm screwed either way, so may as well be slightly more screwed with having to pay a high deductible (as opposed to going broke slowly each time I pay the monthly premiums)
A huge upside to getting health insurance is that your annual well-woman type of visits will be free, and your birth control will also be free!! (and, of course, should you ever get the flu, your dr visits will be cheaper than sans insurance)
posted by csox at 12:32 PM on January 4, 2013

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