Among the adult population, the best premium rates are always offered to groups. This makes the policies offered to employers the best value for money. But if you are self-employed, your employer does not offer a health plan, or your COBRA benefits have run out, the only option is to buy a private plan. Children are not able to buy a policy in their own right but must rely either on the coverage provided under their parents' plan or on state coverage.
As people grow older, it grows harder to find insurance companies prepared to offer cover. Once the magic age of 50 is reached, most insurers insist on a medical to prove you are insurable and do not have a pre-existing condition likely to cost a lot to treat. Because the insurance is only going to cover you up to 64, you end up with a policy costing more for less, i.e. there are fewer areas of medical treatment covered and the premium is higher. For the record, everyone over 65 falls within Medicare but, for those who wish to pay, there are supplementary plans to top up the Medicare benefits.
This makes the age group between 50 and 64 the most vulnerable. How much can you afford as a monthly premium, what level of deductible can you afford and could you afford co-payments? When you have these numbers, look at what you can buy. Be careful to check whether the policy has a yearly or lifetime limit on how much will be paid out. Start by looking at HMOs and PPOs, remembering that some states tell insurers to have open enrolment, i.e. to accept you for at least one month even though you may have an existing health problem. Check with your state's insurance department for the local rules. Your state may also operate a high-risk pool for those refused coverage.
In August 2009, President Obama signed the Kids's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) into law allowing more children to get health coverage. Every state has some protection for everyone up to the age of 18 being offered free or low-cost insurance. The combination of Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) offers a comprehensive safety net for all low-income families with children who are uninsured. CHIPRA bails out those states which have budget deficits with more than $6 billion released so far this year from federal funds. The intention is that families earning less than $44,500 should be eligible to receive help with the cost of getting prescription drugs, hospital treatment and dental care. Central and state governments have recognized that the future well-being of the nation depends on the health of its children. If the US is to continue strong, its children must grow up healthy. This is not some pie-in-the-sky scheme. This is every family's right to cheap health insurance for their children. Contact your state's CHIP/Medicaid program today for details.