Medicaid alternative

January 1, 2010

Q: At the end of the month I lose my Medicaid due to income, and I'm trying to find insurance. I had a shunt put in last year, but otherwise in great health.

A: Under these circumstances we presume that you are not ready to take on the full cost of the high risk state insurance plan but it still make sense to focus on enrolling a minimal coverage that you can comfortably afford even if it is a limited benefit plan. At least you can get coverage to help with primary care and the most common types of medical expenses. This approach is now the accepted approach for low income employees at firms like Wal-mart and other retail firms. See Basic Health Insurance, Core Health Insurance or Value Benefits as likely choices. It is not clear which would be best with your medical situation, but check all three to see.

The advantage of this approach is that you will find easier access to care and a wider range of providers willing to treat you with commercial insurance. The disadvantage is that you do not have coverage for catastrophic expenses so if a major expense puts you back in financial difficulty, at least according to Medicaid standards, you may wind up back on the same coverage you had before.

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