Joining the Ranks of the Uninsured?

by Lorien E. Menhennett

United States health insurance coverage statistics from  the Kaiser Family Foundation's Web site.

United States health insurance coverage statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Web site.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 16% of Americans – that’s 49 million people, folks – were uninsured in 2010. I am on the brink of joining their ranks.

When I was a student, I had health care coverage, a decent PPO at that, through my university. It wasn’t that expensive, either (a little over $100 a month). That coverage runs out at the end of August. Which is in … *gulp* … about six weeks. I was hoping that my part-time lab job might, just might, offer health benefits. But I just got the new-hire paperwork e-mailed to me today, and one of the stipulations for the position is that I don’t qualify for benefits. None.

So I am left in a quandary. There is absolutely no way I can afford comprehensive (i.e., decent) coverage out of pocket. And as I understand it, the Affordable Care Act health insurance “exchanges” that would make decent insurance more affordable for people like me don’t go into effect until 2014. By that time, I will hopefully be starting medical school, and will be again covered under a university policy.

The question remains: What do I do until then?

The uninsured rate for children has gone down between 2007 and 2010 (thank god!), but has risen for nonelderly adults from 19.1% to 22.0%, according to this data from the Kaiser Family Foundation's site.

The uninsured rate for children has gone down between 2007 and 2010 (thank god!), but has risen for nonelderly adults from 19.1% to 22.0%, according to this data from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s site.

When my sister was in a similar situation, she purchased very basic insurance. Emergency insurance, really, in case of a serious accident or illness. That’s my plan as well. Because knowing my luck, if I don’t purchase some type of coverage, something terrible will happen.

For kicks, I just now got an online insurance quote from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. Out of curiosity, more than anything; mainly I chose BCBS IL because they were my previous insurance carrier and I’m familiar with them. The coverage I was quoted (which is obviously not guaranteed) ranges from about $175 (for a $5,000 deductible plan with 80% coverage after that) to almost $700 (for a $0 deductible plan with 100% coverage). Even for the most basic plan, which would provide me with absolutely no benefits unless something catastrophic happened, I would be paying $60 more than I am paying for my student plan now, which offers excellent benefits. It’s a sad situation. For me, and for 49 million other Americans.

While I guess I won’t be completely uninsured, I will be practically uninsured, which is scary. If I get sick, I will have to pay to go see the doctor. And those bills can add up really quickly. Well, let’s hope they don’t, right?

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