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Health Insurance and Chronic Illness

It used to difficult, if not impossible, to find insurance coverage at all when you had a chronic illness. Many insurers would not take on customers who had preexisting conditions. If they offered a policy at all, care for the condition would typically be excluded for months, if not the life of the policy. However, with changes in health care laws, people who are chronically ill have more choices when it comes to getting health insurance. Several advances have made it possible for the chronically ill to find and afford insurance.


You now have more protection from winding up in the "preexisting condition" trap. Under HIPAA laws, if you had health insurance at your old job and were uninsured no more than 63 days ago, your new insurer cannot subject you to preexisting condition exclusions. When changing jobs and insurers, make sure that you maintain your health care coverage. Your former employer is required by law to offer you coverage through COBRA.

If you are losing your current health insurance because of a layoff, your employer may continue to offer regular health care coverage for a period of time. If your spouse has health care coverage available through his or her job, see if you can be added to the policy. If you lose your insurance because of job loss, you will not have to wait for the next open enrollment period. You can also buy an individual health insurance policy to ensure that you do not wind up with a coverage gap. There are a number of policies available that will allow you to maintain health insurance coverage while you are looking for a more permanent solution.

If you have been uninsured for some time, look into high risk pools. 2010's Affordable Care Act created high risk insurance pools in each state that are available to uninsured people with chronic conditions. To qualify for a pool, you must have been uninsured for at least 6 months, and have been turned down for insurance due to a preexisting condition. As you would with regular insurance, when choosing a high risk plan, carefully assess the coverage offered. Plans that provide more coverage come with higher premiums, so, finding the right plan can be a balancing act. You need to choose something with a premium that is affordable as possible while still providing the coverage that you need. For instance, if you need to take daily prescription medications, look for a plan with good prescription coverage. If you think you will need frequent medical treatment, a lower deductible plan's higher premium may work out best for you. Investigate many possible scenarios when choosing a high risk pool plan. You are unable to switch plans once you have chosen one.

As of 2014, insurers will no longer be permitted to turn people down for preexisting conditions or to limit their coverage. At this time, health insurance options for people with chronic conditions will increase greatly. Keep an eye on legal developments to find out how changes in health care plans affect you and your family.

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