New widow needs health insurance

kayjonesMay 10, 2007

MY PROBLEM: My husband passed away, suddenly, this past April, leaving me and my stepson without health insurance after June of this year. We can COBRA, but it is terribly expensive.

QUESTION: How can I afford health insurance for me and my 17-yr. old stepson? The lowest quotes I have received have been $500-600 PER MONTH with a $1,000 deductible and 20% coinsurance. My GOD - there's NO WAY I have that kind of money! I am 57.

Any direction/suggestions would be so much appreciated, as we are now on a single/limited income. Thank you, in advance, for any help you can offer.

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First of all, my condolences for your loss ...

As far as finding insurance, shop around. You can "let your fingers do the walking". Your best bet is an independent insurance agent, not one aligned with just one insurer. An independent has more flexibility in finding a good rate for you -- more companies to draw from. If you live in a larger city, there may be more than one independent agent at different firms who may have access to different companies.

If none of those work for you, check benefits you may have available to you or your stepson or even your husband through affinity groups (trade unions, college alumni organizations, hobby groups, etc.), professional associations, etc. There are organizations out there which essentially create a "group" of insureds from people across the country who are in the same line of business. The association with a group spreads the risk and could get you a better premium. Check your folders of "stuff" and hobby and trade journals.

A third possibility might be that your metropolitan area/county/state offers group coverage similar to that described in the previous paragraph.

Finally, seriously consider your actual insurance needs. You simply may not be able to replace the coverage your husband had. If you are okay with changing your doctor(s) or going with a higher deductible/copay, etc., you may save on the premium. Insurance should cover catastrophes, not serve as a budget mechanism. And don't forget that medical expenses are deductible on federal income taxes if they fall above a certain percentage of your (now-reduced) income.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 10:49PM
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Some states do offer decent health coverage at affordable rates to people in your situation. By all means call your State insurance commissioner's office, and/or the State Dept. of Health or its equivalent. Also, contact your elected representatives at the State and Federal levels. They have staff who can look into this and steer you toward possible resources you might not be aware of. These people are paid with your tax dollars, and you might be surprised what they can do for you if you approach them with an assertive, but polite, attitude.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 2:07AM
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I'm so sorry for you and your son's loss!

In our "rich" country, one would think we have it all.

My "un-hubby" (been together for over 20 years, but never married) didn't have insurance for many years. He FINALLY got approved for V.A. coverage. I "could" have certain benefits also - IF we were married.

MAYBE - if your DH served in war - you could get benefits there? (I don't know - just a thot)

WOW! At those quotes for medical insurance and the or your step-son could go to college to BECOME a Doctor! (If he's not interested..."MAKE" him interested! Bribe him if necessary! just kidding)

I know this is not anything to make light of...It's just that I, myself, am so terribly irritated by the "system" in our "rich" country.

When I was working and had benefits, I could go to any Doc. I had a variety of "specialists" as well as a G.P. who was really good. Shortly after I lost benefits, I lost all my Docs (because I had to move out of area), and to this day I have only found ONE good Doc (for Physical Therapy only). I'm stuck in an HMO, and no good docs so far.
I certainly hope you find something soon - before you have to fork out all that $$$ to cobra, etc.

I truly am sorry for you and son's sudden loss! How are you doing? (other than the insurance issue)

I'll say a prayer for you and son...and, I hope someone will come along with answers for you. HUGS!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 4:53AM
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So sorry for your loss. You must be in a state of shock and sorrow.

I would call, or check out, Social Security and see what is available for you and your stepson. Widows benefits start at age 60 so that will not be of any help for now but your stepson son is covered until he is 18 and longer if he is a full time student. The FAQ section will answer a lot and if you find out what your benefit will be at age 60 it may help you figure out how you can keep it together until then.

As stated above check with the state insurance commission. Call your county health department maybe they can point you in some direction or to an agency you may not think about. Resources are out there you just may have to do some work to find the.

Good luck and again I am so sorry for you loss

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 11:20AM
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As others have said, condolences.
I want to echo the comment above: I had two friends in similar situations get health insurance through groups--one through a college alumni association; the other through the Modern Language Association (yes, this is a group for people in higher education, but the person in question was not! At the time, they took dues from anyone interested in modern languages--that would include everyone).

If you are in generally good health, I would look into a high deductible policy. I don't know if anyone can hook into those medical savings accounts for the self-employed (which would allow you to put away pretax $$)for the deductible and to deduct your payments.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 2:13PM
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Since you are over 50, check and see if AARP has coverage in your state. For your son, you might check with the school district to see who offers policies to students. Ours gives out flyers and I was looking at it the other day. $105 a month and granted the coverage wasn't perfect, but it was better than nothing. With him covered, you may be able to find a more reasonable single policy.

For a family policy with that low of a deductible, I have to tell you the rate is not bad at all. Two single policies may be less than a family, but you'll have to start budgeting for those cash expenses.

I'm very sorry for you loss. Many families just don't realize how much an employer is paying for insurance.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 3:19PM
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I am sorry that you have had the suffering that goes along with the loss of a loved one.

I suggest that you call all of your friends, especially people in a similar situation to yours, (convenient if you have email addresses for a number of them).

Often our friends (even ones from away back years ago) are a wonderful resource ... that often we don't think about tapping.

It's spirit-enhancing to visit with them, as well.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 3:28PM
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I am a widow and havent had health insurance since april of 2010, i do have health problems, i was wondering if you could help me with insurance that would be affordable for me, since my only income is my social security. please help me.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 1:17PM
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Have you already tried the suggestions I made in my previous post above?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 2:10PM
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Starbucks has been famous for years for their policy of offering group health insurance for part time employees.

however, they aren't the only ones. I have a relative who has started working for the Golden Arches. Any employee who works as little as *one hour a week* may purchase group health insurance. The employee portion of the payment is $25 a week. Yes, you read that right.

It isn't a Cadillac plan, but if someone truly *needed* insurance, this option is available. If someone considers him- or herself too good to work there, then they have the option of having no insurance at all.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 12:59AM
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I am so sorry for your loss.

If your health is reasonably good, you might look into an HDHP (High Deductible Health Plan). The deductibe is usually around $1500 and up per year before the benefits kick in. But the premiums are much more reasonable. That way, you pay for regular health care issues, but you are covered in the event of a serious illness or injury.

My son has one (he's in his mid 40's) The deductible is $5000, but the monthly premium is $128.

My husband also has one. His deductible is $1400/yr. The premium is $32 because his former employer helps pay the premium. A regular policy would have cost him over $100/mo.

Recently, HDHP policies have started to cover some preventive care as well. My husband's policy paid for most of the cost of his annual physical.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 2:50PM
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You might just get hospitalization insurance and pay doctor visits our of pocket. I know someone who did that. You might also find a job that offers health benefits. Stores like Walmart offers it, it's not good insurance but better than nothing.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 8:49PM
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"You might just get hospitalization insurance and pay doctor visits our of pocket. I know someone who did that. You might also find a job that offers health benefits. Stores like Walmart offers it, it's not good insurance but better than nothing."

This is EXACTLY the type of insurance that healthy people should be buying.

Unfortunately, once Mandatory Health Insurance kicks in, this type of plan may be "unacceptable" to the gov't, as it is in Massachusetts. Why? Because by not buying a "deluxe" policy, you would not be subsidizing the people
who can't get along without $10 copays, and having their chronic conditions covered.

kay: I think vala55 gave some good advice, assuming you're resonably healthy.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 8:11PM
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Don't know where you got your info from, tom148, but it's wrong. In fact, health care reform is expected to further encourage enrollment in high-deductible health plans because such plans are expected to be a key offering in the insurance exchanges being set up in many states to help the uninsured find health coverage. And HDHP plans certainly are available in Massachusetts.

Anyone contemplating buying an HDHP must be prepared to meet the costs of the deductables and co-pays. That means you'll have to pay out of pocket for most of your routine care, and even a minor illness or injury can wind up costing you thousands of dollars. That's why most people set up Health Savings Accounts, which permit you to pay these costs using pretax dollars. These are avalaible to individuals, BTW.

And forget Walmart as a source of low-cost insurance. Part-time employees at Wally's (and that's the vast majority of their employees) must work for two years before they're eligible to enroll.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 1:26PM
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Ok, Feeding Frenzy, here'e where I got my "wrong" information. Maybe you should go to that couple's defense.

And, BTW, I'm 56 and in the past 36 years, have spent a total of less than $800 for unscheduled health care. So that's why I have no need for a low copay plan. My health record speaks for itself. When two thirds of americans are overweight ( a leading cause of health problems) and I'm fit, yeah, I get really mad about mandates!

Mandatory insurance was a demand made by the insurance companies in exchange for coverage for pre existing conditions. I suppose we should require everyone to purchase homewoners insurance so that uninsured people whose houses have burnt down can buy new insurance and expect to be reimbursed for their losses of years ago.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mass Couple Fined

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 7:17AM
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Glad to hear that you are immune from health problems, Tom. My brother thought that he was, too, until he fell and broke his hip, and wound up with about $100K medical bills plus $20K in rehab costs while learning to walk again.

Such is the road to bankruptcy.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 10:39AM
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Sushipup: In what way would a high -deductable plan (like the MA couple I mentioned had) be useless?

If you were an insurance company, would you prefer to underwrite someone like me, or someone born with diabetes, or cardiac problems? Think hard now.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 12:26PM
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I read your link tom418 (which is to a blog, BTW), and I stand by what I said. There are many HDHPs available in Mass, but they do have to meet minimum standards. That by no means makes them "deluxe" policies, to use your term.

For example, in order not to trigger the tax (or fine, if you prefer), a MASS HDHP: must not limit benefit payments because an individual develops Alzheimer's, mental illness, alcoholism or other chemical dependency after the policy is issued; it can't have a pre-existing condition limitation that lasts for more than six months after the policy's effective date; it must be guaranteed renewable or non-cancelable, etc, etc.

Standards like these are a long, long way from demanding that people can only buy "delux" plans, which is what your post claims. What will happen and who will pay their health care costs if one or both of the Williams eventually develops Alzheimer's and their policy doesn't cover it and they, themselves, run out of money? Why should the rest of the taxpayers of Mass pay for them just because they opted for the cheapest type of insurance they thought they could get away with?

Apparently, the plan the Williams couple has doesn't meet the minimum standards, but there's just no way to tell why from your link because no further info is provided. So given that you don't have the foggiest idea what their plan covers and doesn't cover, your question "In what way would a high -deductable plan (like the MA couple I mentioned had) be useless?" can be answered, "Don't know exactly, but maybe in a lot of ways."

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 11:19AM
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Greetings again, Kay Jones,

I hope/trust that you have got settled into a new lifestyle, following your bereavement, four years ago.

I hope also that you were able to find adequate health coverage at a reasonable rate.

I have another suggestion, a substantially tongue-in-cheek one, I admit, to offer ...

... move to Canada, maybe?

ole joyfuelled

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 8:28PM
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Trouble is, ole joyful, so many Americans have been doing that, that British Columbia has enacted huge barriers to immigrants. Otherwise, my MIL would have moved up there to be with her 200+ relatives in Vancouver.

The rest of the world looks on in amazement as the US continues to waste enormous amounts of money by refusing to go to a single-pay system.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 11:16PM
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Great place but too cold!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 12:16PM
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I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I too am a widow with no insurance, although I worked and carried my own policy for over 20 years, then the company folded...not because of a bad economy but because the CEO and top execs took enormous bonuses and perks like yachts, jets, race cars and even an island! They robbed the company poor and the competition is still doing fine, so can't blame the economy. I am just praying to stay healthy till I turn 65. If I have a fall or get in a car accident, I'm done for. Only in America, Huh!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 8:12PM
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I believe your stepson qualifies for this;

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 12:47PM
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"The rest of the world looks on in amazement as the US continues to waste enormous amounts of money by refusing to go to a single-pay system."

I can see why.

What To Do About Big Pharma And The Sick Care Industry

"Big Pharma is at least as damaging to the physical health of our society as the Banksters on Wall Street are to our personal finances.

We also believe the banking and health-care (a.k.a. sick care) industries have pockets so deep, they are able to significantly influence the decisions made by law makers in Washington to pretend and extend the current system, all the while enriching themselves."

Nothing will change until our government stops letting greedy, corrupt interests meddle with public health policy.

A link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 12:38PM
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OJ, I am doing fine in Florida. I decided a Health Savings Account would work best for our health care needs - thank GOD my stepson and I are healthy. Thanks to everyone for the input.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 8:19AM
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