Healthcare for the unemployed - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Healthcare for the unemployed

by John Wilmer

WATERLOO (KWWL) - Losing your job doesn't just mean losing your paycheck, it also means losing benefits. On Monday alone almost 50,000 Americans lost their jobs, and their health benefits, after five companies downsized.

A Harvard study finds that medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy. In many cases, the financial downfall came after patients lost their job-based health insurance.

The first option that many people have is to check with your spouse or partner about their healthcare plan. According to the Department of Labor you have to do this within 30 days of losing health care coverage.

If that doesn't work you can apply for COBRA which allows you keep the health insurance through your employer for 18 months. The downside, it costs an average of $500 for an individual or $1,200 for a family of three.

There are programs that pay for a child's healthcare. In Iowa it's called HAWK-I, in Illinois it's the All Kids program, and Wisconsin it's known as BadgerCare plus.

Job seekers can also look for private health insurance through or your state insurance department office.

One final resource that is starting to pop up across the state is new medical clinics. These clinics are located in retail stores and have set prices for services.

"As people get laid off and lose their jobs. Oftentimes they lose their health insurance with that and so their looking increasingly for affordable options. there's a lot of stress around that leads to illness as well and so yes we do see an upsweep in business as the economy goes down," CEO of Quickhealth, Dave Mandelkern.

These may appear to be expensive alternatives, but in the long run it could end up saving you money. High deductible insurance ensures that if you have an accident or serious illness you're not left with a bill of more than several thousand dollars, rather than potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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