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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


The reason you don't have health insurance may hold the key to obtaining it. For instance, the other sections of this document cover the following common reasons for not having health insurance and what it can mean for obtaining coverage. If a reason applies to you, click on it.

NOTE: For more information about alternative means for obtaining health insurance, click here.

You Quit Your Job Or Were Fired

Most people who lose their health insurance because their job terminates can extend coverage thanks to a federal law known as COBRA as well as similar state laws. The kicker is you have to pay up to 102% of the premium(the 2% is to cover your former employer's administrative costs.) COBRA coverage only exists for a limited period of time, minimum of 18 months.

At least COBRA coverage:

  • Will give you time to look around for a less expensive policy by looking at offsite linkand our article about how to find out about health coverage in your state
  • It will also give you time to obtain coverage through another employer.
  • Can reduce, or eliminate, the amount of time a new insurer can exclude coverage for a pre-existing health condition.

While you only have 60 days to elect COBRA coverage, you have up to 105 days after leaving your job to pay the first COBRA premium. Coverage will then be retroactive to the date the group coverage ended.

COBRA coverage tends to be a good deal if you're in poor health or live in a state with few choices or you want to stick with your current doctors.

If you have a spouse or significant other who has health insurance through work, your spouse likely has 30 days from the date you lose your health insurance to put you on his or her workplace policy even if the employer normally restricts mid-year sign-ups.

You Lost Your Job And Are Unemployed Because Of Trade Policy

While it doesn't provide health coverage, the federal law known as The Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act pays 65% of the cost of health insurance for up to one year - and sometimes longer. The idea is to provide some compensation to individuals that are hurt because of the government's trade polilcy.

As a general matter, jobs lost to trade for purposes of the law includes:

  • Jobs lost because of Increases in imports which resulted in employer's products being replaced by products from other countries.
  • Your employer moved jobs out of the country.

The program coordinates with other government programs that may provide reemployment assistance, money if you take a job and earn less than your previous job, or help if you have a pension and are dealing with the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation.

Your state unemployment office should be able to tell you more about these programs.

For information, contact the Health Coverage Tax Credit Consumer Contact Center, tel: 866.628.4282, offsite link

You Are Unemployed

If you are unemployed and do not have health insurance coverage, look through the other sections of this article to see if one applies to you.

Especially notice that you may qualify(or take steps to qualify) for Medicaid until you find another job.

You Can't Afford The Premiums

If paying premiums is difficult, consider the following options:

  • Think about whether it is in a particular person's or company's interest to pay your premiums. For instance, if you see your doctor often and have an indemnity (fee-for-service) type policy, the doctor may make enough each month to make it worthwhile for him or her to pay your premium.
  • If you are considering an expensive treatment or operation, it may be in the hospital's interest to pay your premium.

If individual coverage is available in your state, but the premiums for a standard plan are too high for you, consider a high deductible policy.Such policies have lower premiums. The trade off is you have to pay all of the deductible yourself up front before the insurance starts to pay. Even if you spend the same amount of money because you use so many health services due to your health condition, you are protected on the upside -- insurance will pay the unbearable expenses.

Financial assistance may be available to pay premiums. See How To Get An Understanding Of The Insurance Situation In Your State. Also, speak with your social worker and/or local non-profit, disease specific non-profit organization.

You Are An Early Retiree Who Lost Your Health Coverage And Your Pension Benefit Is Paid By The Federal Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation

Under a federal law, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act, you may be entitled to receive 65% of the cost of your health insurance until you are eligible for Medicare

For information on money to help pay your health insurance premium, contact the Health Coverage Tax Credit Consumer Contact Center, tel: 866.628.4282, offsite link and,,id=109915,00.html

A Covered Employee Under An Employer-Sponsored Health Plan Dies, Legally Separates, Or Divorces

The covered spouse and dependent children may be eligible to purchase extended health coverage under COBRA for up to 36 months.

While checking with the employer and/or insurance company about this option, assume thatyou must notify the health plan within 60 days of your loss of dependent status in order to continue coverage for yourself and/or children. Most plans require eligible individuals to make their COBRA election of coverage within 60 days of the plan's notice. Check to verify the deadline for your plan.

If you've lost your group insurance due to a divorce or legal marital separation, your children may be eligible for coverage under your ex-spouse's health plan, even if they live with you. Check the plan. Also check with your attorney about who should pay the difference in premium.

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A Child Is No Longer Dependent

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (also known as "Obamacare") health insurance must provide coverage to dependent children until they reach the age of 26. 

If you have a plan covered by COBRA or a similar state law, it is worth checking whether your child may be eligible to purchase extended health care coverage for up to 36 months. Although health insurance coverage through an employer may cost more because an employer no longer contributes, it is usually less than cost of an individual policy.

  • For safety, notify the employer in writing within 60 days of your covered child no longer being a dependent. 
  • The plan should notify the child of the right to extend health care benefits under COBRA. The child then has 60 days to notify the plan to elect COBRA. (Confirm these dates with respect to your plan for accuracy. You don't want to miss these deadlines.)

NOTE: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act of 2010, children are permitted to stay on a parent's insurance until age 26.

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