January 1, 2010

Q:  I was laid off 12 months ago and my wife and I currently have Cobra coverage. I could not get less expensive coverage because of my pre-existing medical conditions. I will turn 65 in four months and will have Medicare and Medicaid coverage at that time. My wife is only 62 and will need separate health insurance. She is in excellent health with no pre-existing conditions. We live in New Hampshire. What health insurance with reasonable premiums will be available to her? Secondly, would it be beneficial for me to get additional coverage for myself or would that be just a waste of money?

A: If she does not have significant pre-existing conditions then the ideal coverage for her would be a 3 year short term medical insurance plan until age 65 until Medicare starts.  Use consecutive shorter 6 month policies for her if this is not available.  This will cost about 1/3 of the amount of COBRA coverage so the savings are substantial for a person who has no pre-existing medical conditions.

Obviously, we would all like to have full coverage insurance like the COBRA but that is often not affordable. Many Americans who have difficulty affording health insurance in their early 60s find that their level of health care improves once they reach age 65 and are covered by Medicare. The goal is to make it to that point. Buying insurance that you can afford that covers the potential disasters is the best strategy under these circumstances.



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