Guest of the week
Tips and advice from Jerry Scott, our Health Insurance Expert
Arlington, Va. I am 20 years old and studying at Wisconsin University. What type of health insurance would you recommend for me? I haven't had any since I was dropped from my parents' policy last year.
J. Scott Whether you decide to take on permanent health insurance or a short-term plan, the important thing to consider is that you are taking responsibility for your own actions. As adults, we must all work towards fiduciary responsibility and it is good you are ready to take the first step. I suggest you read Playing without a Net by Lisa Barrett Mann of the Washington Post for further guidance. In your circumstances (young, healthy and risky – I assume), I would advise choosing a more permanent health care solution. The main reason being that it won't be easy to convert from a temporary solution to a permanent one later because it will need to be underwritten which isn't a simple process at all.
Washington, D.C. Hi, what kind of health insurance would you recommend for me and my wife? I am 25 years old, she is 22 years old and expecting a baby. Is it true we are uninsurable for all of those agents because of Mandy's pregnancy?
J. Scott It is true, I'm afraid. You should always make sure you have health insurance before the pregnancy because most carriers will rarely pay pregnancy related claims during the term. Your options are to either acquire Medi-Cal (I think that is the name of the service in California) or you could purchase health insurance as soon as the baby is born. It is difficult for doctors like me to take care of pregnant patients who don't have health insurance. The system we have is not ideal but we try to deal with each different situation as best as we possibly can.
Loma Linda, Calif. I can't decide whether to choose short term or permanent health insurance. Which type would you recommend?
J. Scott As I've written in previous responses, I always prefer permanent health insurance. You'll hardly notice the difference in the premium and it could even end up being cheaper. The only deterrent is the underwriting process (pulling up the M.I.B, claims investigation, medical history checks). In all honesty, there is no perfect solution – either solution has pros and cons.
Burbank, Calif. I think I broke my finger when I was out skateboarding and I've also badly bruised my leg. Do you know of any free places where I can go to receive treatment? I have no health insurance and will have to pay the bill otherwise which I'm worried will be expensive. Please can you advise me what to do?
J. Scott If you walk around with broken bones, you are asking for trouble. As well as skeletal problems, you could be harming your body even more if you don't receive medical treatment. So I recommend that you go to see a doctor right away. As for health insurance, most policies have a clause to prevent the company having to pay for any claims on pre-existing conditions. Generally this clause will be 6 months from the effective date. In the meantime you should shop around for good permanent plan.
Baton Rouge, LA. I purchased health insurance last month and then I went to see my doctor and dentist who made me feel comfortable – I have an HMO plan. They told me I had Hepatitis C and they think that I probably got it from my boyfriend. How can I ask him without accusing him of anything? I am very worried about this.
J. Scott Hepatitis C is contracted when blood or bodily fluids of an infected person enter the body of a non-infected person. It can also be spread by sharing hypodermic needles when injecting drugs. Those at risk of contracting Hepatitis C might also be at risk of contracting Hepatitis B or HIV. If your boyfriend is a carrier, it is important to get him treated and quarantined as soon as possible. I recommend a very effective treatment called Interferon – it is a drug with an effective cure rate of 25%. There are possible side effects though, unfortunately. You should discuss these with your family doctor before your boyfriend begins a course of the treatment. This drug is also used to treat AIDS related Kaposi Sarcoma and genital warts. I really wouldn't worry about telling your boyfriend – there is no shame in curing Hepatitis C. The important thing is to find the source and quarantine it immediately. There is actually an outbreak of AIDS in the porn industry at the moment that has halted production across the country – so it shows how important it is to control conditions that are spread in this way.