By Scott J. Wilson, Los Angeles Times –
If you’re self-employed, unemployed or work for a company that doesn’t offer medical coverage, you may have to find your own insurance. Some tips to get you started:
—U.S. Uninsured Help Line: This service by the nonprofit Foundation for Health Coverage Education helps people determine their insurance options. Be prepared to answer questions about how many family members need coverage, household income and pre-existing medical conditions. Call 800-234-1317 or go to http://www.coverageforall.org.
—COBRA: If you recently left a job where you had health insurance, you can continue your coverage, at your expense, under the federal COBRA program for 18 months. COBRA coverage cannot be denied because of a pre-existing condition.
—Healthcare.gov: By answering a series of questions at this federal government website, you can get a selection of individual insurance plans. A similar commercial site is EHealthInsurance.
—Independent agents: Your auto or homeowner’s insurance broker may offer health insurance. You can also find a licensed agent through the National Association of Health Underwriters website.
—Pre-existing conditions. The 2010 health care reform law made pre-existing condition insurance plans available nationally for people who can’t get private coverage. To qualify under the federal plan, you must have been without health coverage for at least six months. Information is at http://www.pcip.gov.