Bouncing Back from Unexpectedly Losing Health Insurance
When I was fired years ago while battling sarcoidosis on unpaid sick leave, I was blindsided. The termination letter reached me at the end of the month, at the same time that my health benefits were stopped. I ended up in a similar situation as the estimated 5.4 million workers laid off between February and May of this year: uninsured.
Pandemic-fueled layoffs have led to a record number of Americans losing health insurance coverage, according to a new report by The National Center for Coverage Innovation at Families USA. With families already struggling, coverage loss could mean choosing between basic necessities and paying for essential medical care, the report warned. That was the same daunting scenario I had faced.
Last year, roughly 153 million people were covered by employer-sponsored health plans in the U.S., with an average annual premium of $7,188 for individual and $20,576 for family coverage, according to the 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey. Staggering premiums prevent many from being able to assume the full cost necessary to continue coverage through COBRA when they lose their job, like me.
The Affordable Care Act’s existence provides an option for coverage, if you can find a plan within your budget at healthcare.gov. Depending on your income and your state’s availability, Medicaid may be a landing spot for care, but be forewarned that many physicians may not accept it. Preexisting conditions may serve as a barrier to securing private marketplace insurance.
Getting healthcare on a tight budget
If you can’t afford insurance or coverage under a health plan your physician accepts, there are options. Talk to your medical team. My physicians helped in numerous ways, including allowing me to pay out-of-pocket for services not covered, discounting treatments, offering payment plans, and being mindful of the cost of diagnostic tests and prescriptions.
You may be eligible for financial assistance or be able to set up payment arrangements for services at hospitals and other medical facilities. Just ask.
There are numerous ways to save on prescription medications as well, including programs offered by pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy chains, which I wrote about last year.
Be sure to check with your local rescue squad to see if they offer a subscription. My mother paid a flat fee that covered the household for the year, which saved me nearly $1,200 when I had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital in 2013.
Additionally, the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics provides a search tool to find free and charitable clinics and pharmacies in the U.S.
Whatever you do, don’t neglect your health.
Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.
- ‘Finding Rover’: The Brandywine Valley SPCA in New Castle, Delaware, has started using new facial recognition technology called “Finding Rover” to help connect lost pets with their owners, CBS reported. Images of dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and reptiles can be uploaded when they go missing, or even before if owners want to be proactive, CBS said.
- Not just for popping: A Toronto native has found a creative use for bubble wrap: art. Bradley Hart creates photorealistic images by loading syringes with paint and injecting each cell of the bubble wrap, according to a report on DailyMail.com. It takes Hart a month and 2,000 syringes to produce each piece of artwork.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.