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Have no Health Insurance - Is Blue Cross/Blue Shield the way to go?

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18 replies to this topic

#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Jason L.

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Posted January 23 2007 - 08:38 PM

Since I stopped working in Afghanistan in August, I have been without health insurance.

I know that by law if I go to an emergency room they must treat me. However, I want to have some type of insurance in case something major happens to me. [Although I am curious how they would collect if I decided not to pay - I read that this happens a lot]. I'm not really concerned with small stuff that I can pay out of pocket. I am only looking to insure myself - a single 35 year old male that doesn't smoke with no health problems.

I'm looking for something with a high deductible and low premiums. I really don't know where to start but I would like to go with a "big name" company.

I have heard people mention Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I have read that this is not one big company but an national trade organization that links 38 independent regional health insurance companies in the United States.

So I am looking for feedback on either: either advice on what insurance to go with and/or personal stories about people who have decided not to pay their medical bills and the resulting aftermath.

#2 of 19 OFFLINE   SethH



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Posted January 23 2007 - 09:50 PM

Find a plan that qualifies has a HDHP (High Deductible Health Plan) and then open an HSA (Health Savings Account). This is pretty much exactly what you describe -- it has a very high deductible and lower premiums. Also, you can use the HSA to save money that can be used tax free for any health-related expenses (including over-the-counter medicines etc). The HSA has many advantages over the FSA offered by many employers including the fact that it can roll over from year to year so you don't ever lose it.

#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted January 24 2007 - 12:36 AM

I know there are specific insurance policies for catastrophic situations such as you're injured or become ill and require lengthy hospital hostpitalizations. The premiums on those as I understand it are comparatively inexpensive compared to a conventional policy. That's because the risk (odds) of that happening compared to your needing or wanting regular visits is far smaller. You'll have to dig around, maybe Google this, to find companies that offer such plans then you can compare/constrast services and costs.

#4 of 19 OFFLINE   AjayM



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Posted January 24 2007 - 03:40 AM

Keep in mind that the rule/law is that a hospital can't just let you die in the emergency room if you have no ability to pay. But in the cases of some long term illness's and the like you may not (and likely won't) have access to the best healthcare you normally would.

As far as not paying the bill, the hospital will try and collect, just like any other creditor. If you have assets (ie: home) they may try and attach a lein on it. They may try and go after wages. It will put a serious black mark on your credit report, etc. It all depends on how much money a person owes, if you went in because you broke a finger and only racked up $1-2k of medical bills then the hospital isn't likely to do much other than turn it over to a collections agency (as it would cost more to collect than the return), now if you have a massive heart attack, require 2 months of hospital stay and rack up a nice hefty 6-figure bill you can bet they are going to make life very miserable for you.

As for insurance, as you mentioned, look into a "catastrophic" health care plan, something with a $5-10k deductable, the premiums are very low compared to "normal" coverage and you still have that "safety net" in case something drastic happens. I'm pretty sure most of the "big" companies offer plans like these, although they aren't advertised very much, BC/BS is a good company to deal with, so give them a call and ask them if they offer such a plan.

The HSA idea can go either way, but most plans never let you get your money back if you don't use them, so keep that in mind.

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   SteveA


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Posted January 24 2007 - 04:24 AM

Good luck getting them to insure you at all. I applied with them a couple years ago for my family and we were denied coverage because we had a couple of very minor (and not ongoing) medical treatments within the last 5 years.

#6 of 19 OFFLINE   Alex Prosak

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Posted January 24 2007 - 05:09 AM

I really don't know the ins and outs of getting health insurance on your own, not through an employer so I can't say anything with respect to that. I do have Blue Cross/Blue Shield and have never had problems with them as I have with some other providers, not as good as some others either but that was a local provider in Alaska. I would certainly recommend getting some sort of coverage though as you never know what may happen. Some friends of mine recently moved and both ended up with jobs in which their employers didn't offer health insurance. Soon after, he was diagnosed with leukemia, as they had no insurance the doctors wouldn't see him unless they had a percentage of the money available to pay up front. Treatment costs far more than they could afford, they had to sell everything they owned and move back in with his parents in Kansas. Last I heard the prognosis isn't good. Very sad stuff, he's only 36.

#7 of 19 OFFLINE   SethH



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Posted January 24 2007 - 02:21 PM

Here's a link that may or may not be useful. FYI -- my HDHP is through Aetna and I have had no problems dealing with them. If you decide to go this route I can also provide some links for banks that offer the HSAs to match up with a HDHP.


I just looked really quick and found that United Healthcare offers an HDHP in my area through that website for about $60/month which isn't bad for non-group coverage.

#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Neal_C


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Posted January 24 2007 - 05:40 PM

I have Blue Cross Blue Shield and haven't had any problems at all. I pay $92/month with a $2500 deductible and office visit and prescription co-pays.

The exact same insurance with United Healthcare was costing me $142/month. Needless to say I got off of that as soon as I could.

#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Chris Lockwood

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Posted January 25 2007 - 07:25 AM

I also have Blue Cross & recommend them, partly because the name is so well known that the coverage will be accepted just about anywhere.

What is the best deal for you depends on where you live, your age and current health, among other things.

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Philip_G



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Posted January 25 2007 - 09:15 PM

I have anthem BCBS and it's fine, but as you mentioned it varies wildly based on who you're with

#11 of 19 OFFLINE   Jason L.

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Posted February 13 2007 - 06:51 PM

I was reading this on the BC/BS of Texas web site last night. I didn't realize that they were a mutual organization [not sure if this is the correct term], which is a big plus in my book.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas has been providing health care coverage to Texans since 1939 and is one of the largest not-for-profit health coverage companies in the state, serving more that 2.9 million people.

#12 of 19 OFFLINE   DanielKellmii


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Posted February 14 2007 - 12:56 PM

Jason, if you can't find a HDHP like Seth mentioned, there is something called a Major Medical insurance policy. Something like the first $5,000 is not covered, but then the plan kicks in. 15 years ago, it wasn't too expensive. But, I have no idea what they are like now.
FYI, Blue Cross/Blue Sheild varies from state to state. So, one persons experience on one state could be very different than anothers. I have had two different BCBS plans. One was terrible, and the other was OK.

#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Gregg Loewen

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Posted February 14 2007 - 01:06 PM

this all varies WIDELY by state.

I have BC in Maine. It is a family plan and costs me $780 a month. There is a 5000 per person deductible or $10000 aggregate annual deductible.


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#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Neal_C


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Posted February 14 2007 - 04:09 PM

Wow Gregg...ouch is an understatement.

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   JonZ


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Posted February 15 2007 - 12:56 AM

Jason, I dont know how much you make and whether you can afford a $400 a month bill for blue cross.

If you dontmake alot of money, one thing you may want to look into is state benefits for lower incomes.

Also check with your car insurance company and see if they provide other benefits. I got a 100K life insurance as well as hospital coverage from State Farm added to my car insurance for about 35 extra a month added to the bill.

Benefits are a big problem. I work at IBM and thewy have been lowering our benefits, giving us a bit less and less steadily for the past 5 years. I have pisspoor coverage myself now as well.

#16 of 19 OFFLINE   AjayM



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Posted February 15 2007 - 01:19 AM

this all varies WIDELY by state.

This is the most important part, but you also need to add that it varies widely by many other factors as well. The difference in insurance between a 20yr old and a 40yr old is HUGE, the difference between a smoker and a non smoker is pretty decent, if you have just about any kind of health issue that may seem minor now you are going to pay big dollars (say if you are diabetic but are well managed and rarely medicate).

#17 of 19 OFFLINE   David McGough

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Posted February 17 2007 - 11:05 PM

Check with your Farm Bureao.. #1 Son had to get off of mine at 25. Cobra wanted 400, a person told me to check with them...It was a major medical and was $125 a month.
It is worth a check..

#18 of 19 OFFLINE   Jason L.

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Posted March 25 2007 - 08:53 PM

OK, I have been procrastinating on this - but I think I am about to make a decision. I like the HDHP/HSA option but I am confused about this:

HSAs were introduced in 2004 to help address the high costs of health insurance. To qualify for an HSA, you:

1. Must be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) that does not cover all medical expenses.
2. Cannot be covered under another health insurance plan, including Medicare coverage, with certain exceptions.
With #1, what does "does not cover all medical expenses" mean?
With #2, what happens when I get a job and go back to having employer-sponsored insurance?

I am thinking about this HDHP plan for $88.00 a month.

BlueEdge Individual HSA (Plan VII)
Lifetime Benefit: $5 Million
Physician/Hospital Network: BlueChoice or BlueCard PPO
Individual Out-of-Pocket Expense Limit: $5,000
Office Visit Co-pay: Deductible
Coinsurance: 100% Coverage
Deductible $5,000
Rx Drug Coverage Select Monthly Premium
$10 Generic, $50 Preferred, $65 Non-Preferred

If something major were to happen to me I could handle paying out the 5k. After that they would pay %100. I like the HSA idea. It seems to act like a traditional IRA.

Deposits are tax-free. [For 2007, the maximum annual HSA contribution for an eligible individual with self-only coverage is $2,850]
Earnings and Interest are tax-free.
Any withdrawals for qualified medical expenses are tax-free.
Plus, once you reach age 65, all nonmedical withdrawals are taxed at your current tax rate, just like a Traditional IRA.
Unlike IRAs, there are no required minimum distribution (RMD) rules.
No matter how much you earn, if you meet the other HSA qualifications, you can open an account. (Annual contribution limits apply.)

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   SethH



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Posted March 25 2007 - 11:25 PM

Rx Drug Coverage Select Monthly Premium
$10 Generic, $50 Preferred, $65 Non-Preferred

FYI - in an HDHP/HSA the prescription coverage does not kick in until after the deductible has been met.

With #2, what happens when I get a job and go back to having employer-sponsored insurance?

If you new employer does not have an HDHP then you will have to stop making contributions to your HSA. However, you can still use the money already in your HSA for any qualified medical expenses. FYI - most large employers offer at least one HDHP now, but you often have to setup an HSA to use with it separately. That is what I'm doing right now.