Health insurance options for pre-medicare spousesPublished 10:19am Friday, August 10, 2012
Buy an individual policy: This is health insurance you buy on your own, but it too can be expensive depending on your wife’s health history. Any pre-existing condition such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc., can drastically increase her premiums or can nix her chances of being accepted at all. To search for policy options and costs go to healthcare.gov. If you need help, contact a licensed independent insurance agent. See www.nahu.org/consumer/findagent.cfm to locate one near you.
Or, if you only need health coverage for a short period of time – less than 12 months – a short-term policy is another lower-cost option to consider. You can get quotes and coverage details at ehealthinsurance.com.
Get high-risk coverage: If you can’t purchase an individual health policy for your wife because of a pre-existing medical condition, you can still get coverage through a state or federal high-risk pool.
State pools, which are offered in 35 states (see naschip.org), provide health insurance to any resident who is uninsurable because of health problems. While costs vary by state, premiums run about 150 percent of what an individual policy costs.
Or, consider the federal Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan (see pcip.gov) which is available nationwide. Created in 2010 under the health care reform law, this program is intended to bridge the gap until better options become available in 2014 when the main provisions of the law go into effect. To qualify, your wife must be uninsured for six months before applying.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.