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JANUARY 17, 2009 -- Was Your Health Care Cut?

If you lose your job, follow these tips to get the best insurance coverage for your dollar.

In 2008, the financial services sector alone shed 148,000 jobs, according to the latest figures released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For these laid-off workers, losing their salaries had to hurt; losing their employer-sponsored health care benefits could hurt more. Whether it's paying the full cost of the premium or buying insurance independently, trying to find the right health coverage after being thrust into unemployment can be an overwhelming challenge.

There's jargon to decipher, deadlines to consider and the sticker shock of purchasing health care without an employer contribution. The costs vary greatly, with a study by eHealth Insurance finding that, when purchasing a policy directly from a provider, premiums average $158 for individuals and $366 per month for families, but with sky-high deductibles--$1,972 and $2,610, respectively. Never mind the costs, the complexity of insuring one's self can lead to poor decision making.

"If you find yourself suddenly without work," says Ellen Laden, a spokeswoman for United Healthcare's individual business, "often it's most tempting to go without health insurance. But it's the time you can least afford to have an accident or injury." Laden and other insurance experts stress that the newly uninsured have several options, but the hard part is figuring out which solution is best for you.

Children's Health Coverage & SCHIP

Two leading Florida Democrats have asked President-elect Barack Obama to support a plan to expand health insurance coverage for children.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) are pushing for expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which is a federal-state program that subsidizes the cost of insuring children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance.

Under existing rules, states have to match the federal dollars they receive for children's health insurance. But states that have multi-billion dollar budget deficits are having a hard time coming up with the match, Castor and Sink said in a letter to Obama.

They proposed a one-year waiver for states to provide the match. The waiver would apply in states that have a relatively high number of uninsured children and a minimum 10 percent projected budget deficit in the upcoming fiscal year.

Florida meets both criteria, the letter said. The state has a $6 billion budget deficit for the next fiscal year, or more than 25 percent of the general revenue budget. It also has more than 800,000 uninsured children, or 18.8 percent, which is the second-highest percentage of uninsured children in the country.

Nearly 20 percent of states face rates of greater than 10 percent of uninsured children, the letter said. SCHIP is scheduled to expire in March if it is not reauthorized. The House is scheduled to vote on an SCHIP bill this week, although details of the proposal are still in flux.

RESULTS:

The House easily approved an expansion of government health coverage for low-income children, a top priority for President-elect Barack Obama and the first in a series of stalled measures expected to move quickly through the Democratic Congress as President George W. Bush leaves office. Obama hailed the 289-139 vote and nudged the Senate to act with the "same sense of urgency." Expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, in the House legislation, would cost nearly $33 billion over 4 1/2 years and would be funded in part by a cigarette tax increase of 61 cents to $1 per pack. Bush vetoed similar bills in 2007, objecting to a tax increase and expansion of government health care.

Cobertura de Salud Infantil y SCHIP

Dos líderes demócratas de Florida han pedido el Presidente electo Barack Obama para apoyar un plan para ampliar la cobertura de seguro de salud para los niños.

Florida, Director Financiero y de los EE.UU. Alex Lavamanos Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) están presionando para la expansión del Estado Children's Health Insurance Program, que es un programa federal-estatal que subsidia el costo del seguro de niños en familias que ganan demasiado mucho para calificar para Medicaid pero no lo suficiente como para permitirse un seguro privado.

En virtud de las normas vigentes, los Estados tiene que coincidir con el que reciben dólares federales para la salud de los niños seguros. Pero afirma que tienen miles de millones de dólares el déficit presupuestario está teniendo dificultades para llegar con el partido, Castor y Lavamanos dice en una carta dirigida a Obama.

Se propone un período de un año de exención para los Estados para proporcionar el partido. La renuncia se aplicaría en los estados que tienen un número relativamente elevado de niños no asegurados y un mínimo del 10 por ciento proyectado déficit presupuestario en el próximo año fiscal.

Florida cumple con ambos criterios, la carta dice. El estado tiene un presupuesto de $ 6 mil millones de déficit para el próximo año fiscal, o más del 25 por ciento de los ingresos generales del presupuesto. Asimismo, cuenta con más de 800.000 niños sin seguro, o 18,8 por ciento, que es el segundo mayor porcentaje de niños sin seguro en el país.

Casi el 20 por ciento de los estados se enfrentan a tasas superiores al 10 por ciento de niños sin seguro, dice la carta. SCHIP está programado para expirar en marzo si no es reautorizada. La Cámara está prevista para votar sobre un proyecto de ley SCHIP esta semana, aunque los detalles de la propuesta están todavía en evolución.

RESULTADOS:

La Cámara aprobó una facilidad de expansión de la cobertura de salud del gobierno para niños de bajos ingresos, una prioridad para el Presidente electo, Barack Obama y la primera de una serie de medidas estancado espera de pasar rápidamente por el Congreso Democrático como el presidente George W. Bush deja el cargo . Obama celebró la votación 289-139 y nudged el Senado a actuar con la "misma sensación de urgencia". Expansión del Estado Children's Health Insurance Program, en la Casa de la legislación, costaría cerca de $ 33 mil millones más de 4 1 / 2 años y sería financiado en parte por un aumento de los impuestos de cigarrillos de 61 centavos a $ 1 por paquete. Bush vetó análogos en 2007, oponiéndose a un aumento de los impuestos y la expansión de la atención de la salud.

 

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