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  • Archive for the ‘Health Insurance’ Category

    Laid Off: How to Stay Insured

    Monday, November 24th, 2008

    The holiday season is upon us. With Thanksgiving around the corner and the winter holidays just weeks away, many American workers are receiving an unexpected (and unwanted) gift from their employers: pink slips. According to the Wall Street Journal, 1.2 million workers have been laid off this year. Lay-offs are occurring across the board and impacting a wide range of industries. Tinseltown legends Harvey and Bob Weinstein laid off 11% of their employees at Weinstein Co. on Friday, while publishing powerhouse Conde Nast has begun cutting their staffs by 5%, a move that bloggers have begun referring to as “Empty Nast syndrome.” The unstable economy is causing stress for many workers, who wonder if their jobs may be the next to go. “I put all this time and effort into my education,” says New York based graphic designer Ashley Jones. “Now I’m hoping it wasn’t all in vain.” But as major magazines fold daily, Jones says “I’m feeling uncertain about my future and I just hope I can support myself.”

    Every Thanksgiving, at tables across America, families lift their glasses and wish for good health for themselves and their loved ones. But how do you take care of your health if losing your job also means losing your health insurance? For the newly-unemployed, the animal of the season may no longer be the turkey: it may be time to embrace the COBRA. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, a law that provides continued group healthcare coverage for uninsured former employees. COBRA allows you to keep the insurance plan you used at your former place of employment for an additional cost, though this cost is usually less than the cost of opening an individual insurance policy. On the other hand, there are affordable individual insurance policies as well as government programs for those who qualify. Explore your options and make sure you and your loved ones remain insured during this holiday season.

    • “Newly Out of a Job? Here’s how to replace the health benefits” by Anna Wilde Mathews at the Wall Street Journal: Mathews offers information and tips on using COBRA coverage, finding an individual insurance plan, and qualifying for government coverage.
    • The Healthier and WISER series: The “Healthier and Wiser” series addressed some of the main health care coverage issues women encounter at different stages of their lives. It offers a variety of resources and information on how to stay insured.
    • FAQs About COBRA: This FAQ from the U.S. Department of Labor offers extensive information on COBRA coverage.

    Financial News You Can Use: The Healthcare Edition

    Thursday, September 11th, 2008

    Beware ignoring Medicare enrollment rules, August 21, 2008: Financial advisors and future Medicare recipients, listen up: pay attention to Medicare enrollment deadlines, or you may face some costly consequences. Medicare only notifies potential-beneficiaries that they are eligible for Medicare if the beneficiaries apply for Social Security benefits before they turn 65. If you don’t fall under this category, you must apply during one of three enrollment periods. Missing a deadline can result in higher Part B premiums or lapses in insurance coverage. Review your health insurance annually and start planning for Medicare at least six months before your turn 65. Visit for more information on Medicare and Medicare enrollment periods.

    Economic downturn not affecting individual policies coverage, but curbing medical care, from August 19, 2008:
    The National Association of Insurance Commissioners have released a national survey that shows “22% of U.S. consumers have reduced the number of times they see the doctor as a result of problems in the economy” while “11% of consumers have cut back the number of prescription drugs they take.” Though cutting back on doctors visits and prescriptions may seem cost-effective now, these cost-cutting strategies can raise your insurance costs in the long run by putting you at risk for untreated health issues. Make your health a priority and use a budget to curb your spending in other areas of your life. For help on starting a budget, check out WISER’s “Keep Track of Your Spending” fact sheet.

    Uninsured to Spend $30 Billion, Study Says, from Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2008: A new study from George Mason and the Urban Institute reports that uninsured American will spend $30 billion out of pocket this year. Uninsured Americans often pay more and receive less care. If you’re experiencing a lack of coverage, explore your options to find a solution to your coverage gap. The WISER Woman blog series “Healthier and WISER”offers information on healthcare options for stages in your life when you may be uninsured.

    Healthier and Wiser: After Retirement

    Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
    Healthier and Wiser

    Many people who have health insurance obtain it through an employer. However, there may be times in your life when you are without coverage, facing coverage choices or grappling with retirement health issues. The “Healthier and Wiser” series will address some of the main health care coverage issues women encounter at different stages of their lives. It will point you in the direction of where to go to find more information. It is not intended as legal advice. You can check out the “Healthier and Wiser” series on Wednesdays.

    This Week: After Retirement

    If you are enrolled in Medicare and cannot afford to pay the out-of-pocket costs Medicare does not cover, is there any other assistance for you?

    • There are state programs for individuals with incomes below or near federal poverty limits. For those at or below the poverty level, with limited resources, the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program (QMB) will pay your premiums, deductibles and co-payments under Medicare. The Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary Program (SLMB) and the Qualified Individual Program (QI) pay Medicare Part B premiums for those with incomes between 120% and 135% of the federal poverty level. Call your state Medicaid office and ask if you are eligible. The programs can save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars each year.
    • You might benefit from a Medigap insurance policy – a private insurance policy that pays out-of-pocket medical costs not covered by Medicare. Contact Medicare for more information on Medigap insurance policies sold in your state or call your state insurance commissioner. Every state offers free insurance counseling to seniors through a program called the SHIP program. Call Medicare at 1-800-Medicare for the nearest SHIP site.
    • The National Council on the Aging has an interactive website program, called Benefits Check-Up, that will point you toward an array of state and private programs that can help you with medical costs. Find it on the web at


    About Us

    WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women's retirement income. WISER creates a variety of consumer publications including fact sheets, booklets and a quarterly newsletter that explain in easy-to-understand language the complex issues surrounding Social Security, divorce, pay equity, pensions, savings and investments, banking, home-ownership, long-term care and disability insurance.

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