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Cheap health insurance is hard to find when you lose your job

The economy continues to suffer and, even though federal statistics show unemployment leveling off, this is misleading. Across America, long-term job losses are hitting hard, not just in wiping out savings, but also in removing the security of health coverage. Thereís a new report out suggesting that at least nine million adults may have lost their health plan in the last two years. The picture is grim. Almost a quarter of all adult families have experienced job loss. The lucky only have short waits before finding replacement work. The less fortunate see a spouse or partner lose work and fail to replace it. The unlucky find no replacement work. About half the people who lost a job with health benefits were unable to continue insurance.

The problem for those who lose an employment plan is the lack of affordable alternatives. Even the federal option, COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), fails to bridge between jobs, helping only about 15% of those who qualify. When people go into the private market, they discover the real problems. Many of the cheaper plans on offer do not provide all the protection needed. Worse people are turned down because of pre-existing conditions. This is pushing the overall total of uninsured Americans above the 50 million mark with the low-paid the worst hit. Even middle class families that always thought they would be safe, have found it difficult or impossible to get the cover they wanted. The unfortunate result is about 60% of adults skimping on health care because of the cost. The threat of debt because of medical bills is a big deterrent. Over the last two years, about four million adults were driven into bankruptcy by the cost of treatment.

This is where the Affordable Care Act is supposed to step in and help. Itís remarkable thereís so much anger and hostility to what is now called Obamacare. The levels of unemployment are high in many of the GOP states yet resistance to the Act remains fierce. This ignores the improvements. From July 1, 2010 thereís better access to insurance for those with a pre-existing condition and a lot more information online to help you find more affordable coverage. From September 23, insurers cannot deny coverage for children because of pre-existing conditions, and young adults can stay on their parentís plan until they are 26 years old. More importantly, the right of the insurer to cancel a policy for your slips and insignificant mistakes is removed. There are also new rights to appeal an insurerís refusal to pay out on claims. Lifetime caps are prohibited.

When you put all these together with the improved rights of states to refuse unjustified premium increases, your access to affordable if not cheap health insurance has been significantly improved. If the law survives the constitutional challenge, 2014 should see 50 million uninsured Americans brought back into cover. We should be looking forward to this day. Instead of having the worst performing healthcare service in the developed world, we should be looking to keep health insurance quotes as low as possible and make quality care available to all our citizens.

 


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