Thursday, October 11, 2007

My turn...

It’s my turn to comment on the reaction to Bob’s post. Normally I would have written this as a response in one of the comment areas, but I am putting it up as a separate post; it’ll otherwise get lost in the noise.

All of four of us who write for InsureBlog are very experienced in the health insurance marketplace. Personally, I've worked over 20 years in this business. Bob, The_Prof and I can all cite personal experiences where people have tried to purchase health insurance after a serious medical problem arose. For these people, their families and frequently their extended families, it's a disaster.

I have enormous sympathy for these people. They didn't intend for this to happen. And a percentage got trapped because they fell through a crack in the system and/or they didn't know what options were available to them. But, a substantial percentage, at least in my experience, had made a conscience (and retrospectively stupid) decision to gamble and they lost that bet. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve said to somebody, “But why didn’t you call me a month ago?

Many people perceive an inexpensive high-deductible medical insurance plan as worthless because it won't pay the day-to-day doctor bills. But a plan like that would at least mitigate the financial disaster that a serious illness or accident can bring. They're not expensive...I just obtained coverage for a 41 year old with some minor chronic problems for $160/month. It won't pay the first $3500 in bills, but, if lightning strikes, it'll pay the next $5 million. (Standard disclaimers apply...No promises...All applications are subject to acceptance by the carrier's underwriting department...etc, etc...)

Is that policy available to someone who's recovering from a heart attack? No, it's not. But, as in the case of a gentleman who called my office a number of years ago, maybe he owns a small business. And in California, small businesses are guaranteed issue. The specifics vary from case to case. The Frosts, at least in California, would most likely be able to obtain a policy for no more than a 10% surcharge.

There are programs available for those who can't afford or can't obtain traditional health insurance. If you don't know what they are, look at The Foundation for Health Coverage Education web site. The state-specific matrices that they publish list both public and private programs that are available throughout the country.

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