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Navigating Health Insurance Options

Health insurance can help protect you and your dependents from high medical costs. Obtaining health insurance through an employer is often cheaper than purchasing health insurance independently from your job - this is because your employer will help cover some of your health coverage and medical expenses in most cases.

​However, you don't have to take insurance if your employer offers it. Maybe your employer's health insurance is too expensive or too skimpy. You can opt out of employer sponsored health insurance and get healthcare insurance on your own or through your partners' health insurance provider if it is available. Depending on what you choose, you may end up paying less for coverage.

​If you are still working, clearly review your employer sponsored health insurance plans, short- and long-term disability plans, life insurance, and supplemental and long-term care insurance options. Compare with others on the market. Don't assume that you can't obtain insurance long-term care or life insurance after receiving a Parkinson's diagnosis; there are options, including the forthcoming changes from the newly passed federal Affordable Care Act.

​If you are nearing retirement, it is time to start discerning what type of health insurance you will qualify for, and which type of insurance may be best suitable for your needs while living with Parkinson's. Because many of the industry's rules and regulations differ by state and most plans include limitations and restrictions, it becomes obvious why this subject is so complex. Understanding which options are available - and when you become eligible for each - will help you select the best plan for your needs now and into the future.

​There are various federal insurance-related rules and regulations and government-sponsored plans that may benefit you including COBRA, HIPAA, health savings accounts, state health insurance risk pools, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicare, Medicaid, and the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans (PCIPs).

​If you do not have group or private health insurance coverage, many states provide health insurance risk pools and other avenues for obtaining healthcare services for little or no cost.

​Medicare is federal health insurance for anyone age 65 and older, and some people under 65 with certain disabilities and conditions. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health coverage for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid offers benefits, like nursing home care, personal care services, and assistance paying for Medicare premiums and other costs. You may even be able to qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.

​Most regional state agencies for Alabama Area Agency on Aging provide guidance to help you discern which plan may be best for you.

To learn more about Medicaid, Medicare, and Medicare Advantage plans, click on each of the links below:

Over the next couple of weeks, we will look at each of these in greater detail in this blog series.

Sources: Alabama Social Security - Applying for Disability Benefits.


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