Thursday, June 4, 2009

One area many patients with an autoimmune disease should be well versed in but often are wholly unprepared: health insurance.

As any of us know, it's difficult if not impossible to be accepted by any insurance company with such expensive conditions. The event that my father be hired by Westar was fortuitous if anything at all because it provided health insurance not two months before I fell so ill and in dire need of medical care. Without this insurance I'm not sure I would have gone into the hospital until I was past reasonable healing.

However, his employment with them has ended and so too soon will my health insurance. That being said, I am currently looking into all options. This includes:

COBRA--The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan.

This is useful, but it only lasts for a limited amount of time and costs thousands of dollars every year. It is the best option so far until the rest (possibly) come to work out. The only way I will receive this is if my father signs up for it, but he has not given a definitive 'yes' or 'no.' I am hoping he realizes how much I need this, but family issues and dealing with a chronic illness will have to wait until another entry.

Medicaid--TennCare is a government-operated medical assistance program designed for people who are eligible for Medicaid, as well as for some children who do not have insurance. TennCare is a Medicaid waiver, or demonstration, program. Its purpose is to demonstrate that the use of managed-care principles can generate sufficient savings to enable the state to cover more than Medicaid eligible people.TennCare provides health coverage for 1.2 million low-income children, pregnant women and disabled Tennesseans with an annual budget of $7 billion.

In my case medicaid is Tenncare given my current location of residence. I sent in papers today requesting information to get the ball rolling on this since it can take up to three months to reach a decision.

Employment during college: Starbucks offers health insurance to its employees. I am waiting to see if any positions open in any stores, but no such luck yet. I also applied to US Cellular, but I believe the best benefit they offer at the moment is tuition reimbursement; rather irrelevant to this.

Student Health Insurance through University:This is a difficult case. I would advise any incoming freshmen to take advantage of their university's health insurance program because you never, NEVER, know what will happen to you. I entered UT very healthy and left my Spring 08 semester severely ill. My school's program is amazing from what I can tell so I will be signing up soon. I was mistaken in that I thought the 'pre-existing conditions' clause would prevent me from being able to obtain coverage due to my condition. However, if you have had coverage in the last 12 months you are still eligible for coverage. I am going in soon to speak with someone about my options so I will update next entry.

*In the event you/I cannot receive medical coverage and fall too ill to work*

Disability: This is extremely difficult to get. There are many people who desperately need it, apply, and are continually rejected. We really have to fight to receive it, but it is an option and should be explored nonetheless.

Consulting your state's Department of Human Services: I have been in the process of doing this lately. I am not sure how well it work, how soon a decision will be reached, and what else I will need to provide concerning annual expenses.
It is supposed to provide financial assistance and/or food stamps for those of us who are at a severe financial disadvantage.
So far I have had to provide proof of income (or unemployment in my case), a copy of water and electricity bills, a statement signed by my father about monthly support, and a copy of my most recent bank statement. I sent this out today and will keep records of how this option progresses.

All I can say at this point is that we'll see.

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