Unemployed? Get creative with health insurance

There are an estimated 500,000 on Long Island without health insurance. With unemployment on Long Island rising, many more are looking for different options to stay covered in case of an emergency, but

News 12 Staff

Mar 6, 2009, 6:48 PM

Updated 5,614 days ago

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There are an estimated 500,000 on Long Island without health insurance. With unemployment on Long Island rising, many more are looking for different options to stay covered in case of an emergency, but for some those options are just too expensive.
Linda Ray and Patrick Keeffe, of Huntington, say they are running out of money. Keeffe lost his job and his health insurance several months ago. Paying for COBRA insurance, he says, is taking a huge hit to his wallet.
"For Linda and me, it's $941.25 a month. If we did the boys also, it would have been another $500-600 a month," Keeffe says.
Keeffe and Ray got creative and instead of putting their sons on their COBRA insurance, they enrolled them in lower-cost health plans offered by their colleges.
Experts say one of the best options in searching for a lower-cost health insurance is heading to the Internet. There are several sites out there that people get can free quotes. People are urged to read each site carefully and find out exactly what is covered and what isn't covered.
Those searching for insurance should also consider a plan with a higher deductible to lower their monthly premiums. Some colleges also offer alumni health benefits. Those over 50 could check out AARP, which offers several bargain health plans.
Other options include Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus. They?re both subsidized by the state. There are no monthly premiums, deductibles or copays but there are some minimal out-of-pocket expenses depending on income.
President Barack Obama has expanded COBRA coverage for the recently unemployed as part of his stimulus plan. The federal government will pick up 65 percent of premium costs for those who lost their jobs after Sept. 1 2008 and meet income guidelines.
A state program called Healthy New York offers several low-cost insurance plans for those who are self-employed or small business owners.
The Health and Welfare Council of Long Island can help the uninsured figure out which program best suits them.
Watch: Getting the government to help
HardTimes: A Long Island Survival GuideDiggingout of debt takes disciplineExperts:Don't lose sleep over weak marketTighteningyour belt during tough timesExperts:No quick fix for economic crisis
Information on COBRACOBRA InsuranceDepartment of LaborFacts about COBRAIRS on COBRAGovernment HealthInsuranceChild Health PlusFamily Health PlusHealthy NYLongIsland Association Health Alliance
Related Links:Health and Welfare Council of Long IslandHealthy NYFamily Health PlusVeterans Health Administration HomeFor further information about what?s coming out from the federal government, check out Recovery.gov
The University of Michigan is in the midst of pulling together career resources for alumni on one Web page.The school also is offering free one-year memberships to alumni who are unemployed but want to take advantage of alumni benefits, such as discounts on prescription drugs and savings on health insurance.


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