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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


Because of the Affordable Care Act (also known as "Obamacare"), you can qualify for individual health insurance despite your health history or current condition. However, you may be eligible for better or less expensive coverage because of your business or interests. The suggestions for obtaining health insurance in this article are grouped together according to the following situations. If a situation does or could apply to you, please click on the link to learn more. 

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If You Are An Employee Without Health Insurance

If the employer does not offer health insurance to employees in your position:

  • Find out what is necessary to qualify for another position that provides health insurance at little or no cost. Perhaps you only need to take a course or two at your local college, technical school or on line in order to qualify for an alternative position. (Your employer may even pay for the additional training or education.)
  • Consider negotiating with your boss - even if you have to pay for the coverage. It's protection, it's available and it's often cheaper than buying individual insurance.
  • Think about changing jobs and going to work for a company that offers insurance benefits. 
    • The larger the employer, the more likely to have good benefits. 
    • You cannot be discriminated against when seeking a job because of your health history. 
    • You may even find that some companies offer health insurance benefits to part time workers. (e.g. Fedex)  
    • Do not leave your current job until you have a solid offer from the next one with the benefits you want.
  • Consider becoming self-employed or starting your own business. If this alternative is appealing, think through the stress and difficulties involved.

For more informations, see:

If You Are Self Employed

Self employed people may qualify for health insurance through several means. For information, click here.

If You Are A College Student

College students can obtain health insurance:

  • Under a parent's health insurance policy until age 26. Review the parent's policy to determine whether you have to be a full time student, or can be part time. Being a full time student may extend family coverage.
  • Through school insurance -- though it may not cover as many costs as other insurance you may be eligible for.
  • Through work. Some employers provide health insurance for part time workers.  For information about how to seek work with a health condition, click here.
  • On a short term basis with a short term health insurance policy.

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Short Term Health Insurance

If The Concern Is About A Child

In addition to family coverage which covers a child, children may be eligible for SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program). SCHIP programs exist in every state. However, they are sometimes hard to locate because the names of the programs vary from state to state. For example, California's SCHIP program is called Healthy Families; Florida's program is called Florida Kid Care.

To learn about the program in your state, see: How To Get An Understanding Of The Insurance Situation In Your State.

If You Are Single

If you're single:

  • Check one of the comprehensive web sites about the insurance situation in each state to see if yours provides guaranteed issue insurance -- insurance that has to be issued no matter what your health history is. Check to see if there is a pre-existing condition exclusion and, if there is, how long it lasts. (See: How To Get An Understanding Of The Insurance Situation In Your State)
  • Check this document to see if you fit another category as well. For instance, you're self-employed, or own a small business, or can join an association.
  • Check to see whether your state has a High-Risk pool for which you're eligible. (See: How To Get An Understanding Of The Insurance Situation In Your State)

If you can't get affordable health insurance in any other manner, there may be a more drastic step to take. To learn about those steps, click here.

If You Have A Spouse Or Domestic Partner

Most group health plans make coverage available for a spouse. Many health plans now also provide coverage for significant others.

Your spouse or domestic partner can consider changing jobs, if necessary, to get you the coverage you need.

Under the federal law known as HIPAA, a new spouse can be added to an employer's plan under a special enrollment period. To qualify for the special enrollment period, you must notify the plan and request special enrollment within 30 days of your marriage. Your plan may require that the notice be in writing. Putting things in writing is usually the safest course of action in any event.

If You Are In Or Could Join A Union

If you are a union member or work in a field that has unions for which you may be able to qualify, explore what benefits are available to union members. 

Union plans usually require:

  • Union Membership.
  • Some proof of activity in a the field the union covers. Usually this involves proof about a minimum number of hours worked or a minimum amount of dollars earned.

For information, see: Obtaining Health Insurance By Joining An Association Or Guild

If You Are In Or Could Qualify For A Guild

Guilds are usually made up of members of a specific trade or profession, frequently a type of profession that has many independent or self- employed members or members who may change employers frequently. Guilds can negotiate contracts, set minimum wages, have strict standards for guild membership, and frequently offer health insurance and other benefits to its active members.

If you have a skill, check to see if there are guilds for which you can qualify that offer health insurance to members. Guilds most likely to have benefits for members are those that function like unions, such as guilds for professional directors or writers. Guilds that are really associations, such as weavers' guilds, The Taleteller's Guild or a knitting guild, rarely provide insurance benefits to its members.

If you don't qualify for a guild, perhaps you qualify for an association.  (See the next section).

For more information about obtaining health insurance through a guild, click here.

If You Belong To Or Could Join An Association

You may be able to get health insurance by belonging to an association.

While this is a proven method of obtaining health insurance, there have been scams. Be particularly careful.

To learn more, click here.

If You Have A Low Income Or Are Currently Unemployed

You may qualify for Medicaid (Medi-cal in California) -- the government program for people with limited income and assets. If you don't qualify, you can give away assets to qualify. There needs to be lead time between when you give away assets and qualify for nursing home care, but all other health care is likely to be available immediately -- including home assistance.

It is a misconception to think that only doctors in poor areas accept patients with Medicaid. Many doctors connected with teaching, research and university hospitals, as well as other well qualified doctors, accept Medicaid.

One way to qualify for Medicaid is to give away your assets. We don't recommend giving away your assets just to qualify for Medicaid. You may need funds to continue your lifestyle or for unexpected expenses. However, if this is the only way to get the health care you need, it is your right. Before considering such a major step, speak with a local attorney or a qualified social worker who is familiar with this situation.

If a patient becomes eligible for Medical Assistance benefits while hospitalized, a social worker may provide guidance through the application process.

Medicaid receives state as well as federal funding. Benefits, level of payment and days of hospitalization may vary from state to state.  If you don't qualify for Medicaid in the state in which you live, see if there is a state for which you may qualify. (Also check to see if there are any residency requirements -- requirements about how long you have to live in the state before you can qualify for Medicaid.) It's a drastic step, but your health, and possibly your life, are at stake.

To learn about the Medicaid eligibility requirements in your state, see: How To Get An Understanding Of The Insurance Situation In Your State

If You Are On Social Security Disability Income, Are Age 65 Or Older, Or Have A Spouse Or Parent Who Qualifies For Medicare

If you are on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you may qualify for Medicare insurance coverage.

  • Medicare consists of three parts.
  • Medicare Part A covers care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, home care and hospice care. There is no charge for the Medicare Part A program.
  • Medicare Part B covers "outpatient care" -- including visits to doctors, ambulance transportation and tests performed on an outpatient basis. Part B enrollees pay a monthly premium that is adjusted annually, plus a co-pay.
  • Medicare Part D covers medications.

Instead of the traditional Medicare, Medicare beneficiaries can receive their benefits from what is referred to as a Medicare Advantage plan -- usually a type of managed care.

Assistance may be available to help pay Part B premiums.

For more information about Medicare, click here.

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If You're A Veteran

Health benefits are available to people who served in the U.S. Armed Services and in some cases to their spouses.

For more information, see our article about Veterans Benefits.

If You Are A Small Business Owner

As a business owner, you may be able to get health insurance for less cost  than for an individual policy.

For instance, your business may qualify to be part of a small business association in your local area, or possibly an association of other businesses which do the same type of work. Such associations often offer group health insurance to their members. Group health plans are usually less expensive than individual plans. In the event of a claim which an insurance comany questions, the larger the group, the more influence it has to help convince aninsurer to say "yes." 

In addition, your small business may qualify for a group rate, depending on the state in which your business is located and the number of people employed. Of course, there is the downside that you will have to include your employees as well so you have to do the math to find out what is best for you and your business.Check with an insurance broker about the alternatives in your state. 

To learn more, see: How To Obtain Health Insurance If You Are A Small Business Owner

To learn how to choose and maximize use of a health insurance broker, click here..