In our nation’s current economy, many people are finding themselves unemployed or downsized to only part-time hours. Many smaller businesses, while still keeping employees working, are finding they are no longer able to afford and provide medical benefits for their employees. Unfortunately, for anyone with a medical condition, the loss of medical insurance can create a severe financial burden in an already difficult economic state. For someone who loses their job, being able to afford COBRA health coverage is not always an option, so they are left to forgo medical care, dip into savings accounts, utilize credit cards for care (greatly increasing a family’s debt), or figure out how to work it into their limited financial budget. While the financial stress of losing a job or losing insurance is difficult enough to deal with, when you have a medical issue that requires continued care or medication, this can be a time where many families are finding themselves falling deeper into debt. However, there are other options that many people are just not aware exist.
When unemployment or downsizing leaves you without medical care, there are numerous options available. The first thing to look into is your states Medicaid program and if you and your family may qualify. If you family’s income is below their guidelines, you may be lucky enough to find yourself with state funded medical care program. However, just like businesses are being hit by the poor economy, so are these state programs. Because of the financial status of many states, the maximum income requirements for these programs are dropping, and many find that even with only enough income to survive on, it is still not low enough to qualify you for medical care. Most states, however, will have a program to cover children, so you should be able to gain medical coverage for them at the very least.
Within most communities, there are either private or state funded medical clinics designed for medical care for those without income or insurance. This is a good resource to become aware of should you find yourself needing medical care for things like infections or the flu. Contacting your local Health Department or Salvation Army office should give you leads on these types of clinics. However, most of these places are staffed by volunteer doctors and they change at every clinic, so for those people that need regular care for a chronic condition, you may not find that you will be able to get that continued care at one of these clinics. Again, as with many businesses, the current economic state has affected these clinics as well, and you may see they are harder to find, but it is always a good thing to look into.
For many people with a chronic condition, losing their medical benefits creates an even bigger problem than worrying about seeing a doctor. While paying to see a doctor may put a dent in their budget, the loss of medical coverage for their prescription medications can find many people in serious trouble. Without these medications their life could be at risk, but without the financial ability to pay for these medications (sometimes running into the thousands each month), sometimes they are left with no choice but to stop medications, and this is where the loss of employment and medical benefits can really take a huge toll on one’s health. However, there may be help for those who can no longer afford their medications. Most pharmaceutical companies offer a financial assistance program for their many medications, and these programs are based on family income. Many of these will require you to go through your doctor and have the medications sent directly to them for you to pick up. Now, if you have had a good relationship with your doctor, explain the situation to them and you may just be able to pick up the medications without having to pay for an office visit. A good resource to find prescription assistance can be found through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance. You can also call your pharmacist and ask them which companies your medications come from, and then visit the pharmaceutical company’s website and contact them directly about financial assistance. Two major companies with programs are Abbott and GlaxoSmithKline.
Finding yourself unemployed and without medical coverage is a situation that many families are facing in our current economy and finding the income to cover bills and food is difficult enough. Add to that the wonder of how you will be able to maintain a chronic medical condition and you see why so many people are getting so upset and fearful. The idea that because of a lack of finances you may have to choose between your health and your home is a fear that, thanks to our current economy and unemployment rates, many families are now facing. The resources provided will hopefully work to find you an answer to your financial and medical care issues and allow you to maintain your health while working to find another form of employment and medical coverage.
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