If you have a pre-existing condition finding health insurance can be difficult. Many insurance companies deny health coverage to anyone who has had a major medical condition in or has an existing medical condition. So how do you get health coverage in Chicago if you have a medical condition? Let’s discuss the options one by one.
Employer Sponsored Group Health Plans
This may be the best option for getting an health benefits if you have a pre-existing condition. Group plans must accept everyone in the group for coverage, regardless of medical history. Many times group health Insurance premiums are subsidized by the employer, making the premiums more affordable. If you are leaving a company you may qualify for COBRA which will extend your health benefits for up to 18 months. COBRA premiums can be too expensive, especially if you are unemployed, because the company does not continue to pay a portion of the premium. If you lose your job in 2009 the federal government will pay 65% of your COBRA premium for up to 9 months. This can make COBRA premiums affordable, however after nine months the government subsidy ends and you have to pay the entire premium.
Higher Deductible Major Medical Health Plans
It has been my experience the Illinois health insurance companies are more willing to except applicants with certain pre-existing medical conditions if the health plan being applied for has a higher deductible. You are better off applying for a $5,000 deductible Health Savings Account plan than applying for a $500 deductible copay plan if you have medical conditions. This tactic has helped some folks with medical conditions get health coverage. However, if you have high risk medical condition like HIV, Diabetes, or a major heart condition you will not be accepted for major medical insurance, even on a high deductible plan.
Limited Benefit Illinois Health Plans
There are a number of companies selling health insurance in Chicago that are guaranteed issued. This means they accept all applicants regardless of medical history. Limited benefit health plans are not major medical insurance, but defined benefit plans that offer less comprehensive coverage. When an employer group plan is not available these health plans can provide coverage against catastrophic health care bills. Some of the limited benefit health plans being sold in Chicago are not a good value because the benefits are very poor in relation to the costs. Before applying for a limited benefit plan make sure you read the plan outline carefully and understand what is covered, and what medical expenses you are responsible for.
ICHIP – Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan
The ICHIP plan is run by the State of Illinois to offer health insurance for folks in Chicago that don’t qualify for traditional health plans. ICHIP uses the BlueCross BlueShield of IL PPO network. The coverage is better than the limited benefit health plans, unfortunately the premiums are usually at least 50% higher. For younger folks with pre-existing conditions this may the best available option. For folks in the higher age brackets the premiums are typically too high to be considered affordable.