Help for the uninsurable
Many people are lead to believe that they are uninsurable because of having poor health or a pre-existing condition. Each year many people begin looking for coverage only to find they are ineligible or are declined if they do apply. Many assistance programs are only for people with very low incomes. It is almost impossible for a single working individual, with no dependents, with a living wage of $20,000 or more a year before taxes, in some cases less, to qualify to receive assistance under these programs. So what do we do, we put off getting help until our conditions becomes unbearable and often times by then it is much more costly to treat.
So what do I know about this. My name is Sheron Sidbury and despite being an independent life and health agent this is the situation I found myself in. Before 2008 I was still running my first business as an Independent Residential House Cleaner. Due to economic reasons I decided to choose between my health insurance and paying the rent. I always thought things would get better and I would be able to get insurance again but it did not. Later I found out that a condition that I had back in 1997 had returned. I tried to treat it with natural Internet remedies to save money, but none of them worked for me. To make a long story short I finally decided that I needed to seek medical attention.
I started my search in January of 2010. At the time I was making $22,000 per year. I didn’t qualify for most programs Medicaid etc. Everyone had a story about a friend who had major surgery and was forgiven all of their debt. In my case I was always presented with a bill, which was difficult to pay since that same year two of my clients moved away and my income dropped to $19,000. At the end of the year I gave up my apartment and decided that I needed to take care of my self. I knew if I did not that the outcome would not be very good. With the help of friends and family I was able to move and then begin my search for medical help. First I began searching for free medical help for the low income. I did not find any free help for anyone in my enormous $19,000 income bracket but I came across a site that gave me the names of health centers in my area that accepted people based on their income on a sliding scale. I immediately sent them an email and was contacted by the clinic within 2 weeks. They said that I qualified based on the information that I submitted. I qualified for the 45% tier, which meant that my copays were $45 and all labs were $15. The lowest copay was $10. Everyone had to pay something. Which I felt was more than fair.
By August 2010 I had my first appointment at the clinic. They referred me to a local hospital for an ultra sound and other annual exams, which I had skipped for many years. They discovered that I needed to have major surgery. Since I wasn’t eligible for any discount programs at any of the local hospitals the clinic referred me to a hospital about three hours away. I was able to apply for their financial assistance program. While waiting for the rejection letter to my surprise I actually qualified. I was happy but still concerned because I knew that the operation was going to cost at least $25-30K (Actually it cost $68K). Since I only qualified for their 45% program I would be responsible for 45% of the bill, which was still going to be between $11-14K. On my salary it was still overwhelming.
Later that year on the Suze Orman show I heard about a health insurance program, which provided health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. The next day I went online and filled out my application. Once I received my letter from my doctor I sent it in. I called at the end of December 2011 and found out that I was approved but would still have to wait about 30 days for processing. So once again I would be insured. That would drop my total out of pocket down to just under $7K. That’s still a lot but not as scary. In Mid-December I had my first appointment at the hospital. When they saw the size of my tumors they were afraid that it was something more serious such as a cancerous ovarian cyst. They sent me over to the cancer center for a CT scan. They gave me the results on the same day. It turned out to be extra large fibroid tumors. Because of the size, location and a few other issues my surgery was still going to be delayed. My doctor wanted to start me on Depot Lupron to stop the severe bleeding that was causing me to become very anemic. The shots were not cheap.
I found another site a few weeks earlier where you can apply directly to the pharmaceutical company to get your prescription medications at low or no cost. I called the number on the website and they put me in touch with the pharmaceutical company. I filled out the application, my doctor submitted it and with in 3 weeks I was approved. The medication was sent directly to the hospital. I had my shot in Mid February of 2012 and am now waiting to finally have surgery in April of this year.
I was happy to learn that even after I no longer had a pre-existing condition that I can still keep the insurance that I purchased. I’m definitely going to do that.
After everything that I went through I began wondering if there were other people who were struggling with the same issues. People who were looking for assistance but simply do not know where to go to get it because their incomes are not low enough for traditional assistance programs. Or maybe there are people who can afford insurance but due to a pre-existing condition they cannot find a company willing to approve them. I decided to put together a list of all of the programs that I applied for. I want to make it available in one place at no cost to all. You can find it in "The Learning Center" under "Useful Websites"
You do need to qualify for all of the programs but the rules and income levels are not as stringent. As I hear of new programs I will add them to the site. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY TO APPLY TO ANY OF THESE PROGRAMS. THEY ARE EASY TO APPLY FOR. Most of the programs are nationwide. Later I’d like to know how you were helped by any of these programs. I also will provide information on how people with certain health risk can apply for certain types of life insurance. As of now I still do not qualify for life insurance due to my pending surgery but I will definitely get it as soon as I qualify again.
Note: As of June 2013 my health improved enough where I qualified for life insurance. I took out a term life policy and a small whole life policy to cover my final expenses and protect my family financially in case something happens to me.