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Can’t Get Medical Insurance? Move!

July 25th, 2008 by Jonathan Pletzke

I know it sounds crazy, but did you know that if you move to another state you may easily get health insurance, no questions asked? The reason is because some states do not allow medical underwriting when applying for health insurance, whereas the bulk of them do. So those states that don’t allow medical underwriting are much easier to get health insurance regardless of medical status – the application forms don’t involve disclosing your detailed medical history.

Sure there’s a waiting period for pre-existing conditions (perhaps six months), but then you’ll have your health insurance – and having health insurance is an essential component of many people’s financial picture. For whatever reason you no longer have health insurance, whether it due to an illness, a family situation, a layoff, or one of the many other reasons, getting it back can be essential. Relocating to a friendlier state may be your solution, along with considering the other options available without moving, including obtaining employment that offers health insurance or buying your own (and making sure that you know all of your options – that’s why I wrote a book on health insurance!)

Moving is not to be taken lightly – there are many consequences and expenses involved with moving. However, you can move to your new state in a very lightweight way, simply by establishing a residence consisting of no more than a studio apartment or a bedroom in a shared house. As you further transition to your new state, you may begin moving more items to the new state, and continue to make your transition. Some people never move everything they own to a new state, but have a second residence elsewhere (such as the scenario that many retirees desire – with a residence in Florida and a second home elsewhere). So long as you meet the defined requirements of residency in your new location, you’ll still continue to be able to travel and visit anywhere that you wish.

So which are the states that offer guaranteed issue health insurance without medical underwriting? Presently the short list of states includes:

A few more states that I’ve found have special programs that really help people in need of guaranteed issue health insurance (check with your state department of insurance as well as others before you make a move):

If you don’t wish to move, then you may find that your state offers guaranteed issue health insurance, subsidized rates for certain income levels, and special programs and special times of year when health insurance is not medically underwritten. There may also be specific special programs for those that have lost employment due to jobs moving overseas, or certain other industry and natural events. The best place to start finding out about these programs is with your state department of insurance. You can find contact information for your state department of insurance at State Health Insurance Resources at http://www.besthealthinsurancebook.com/state-health-insurance-resources/

As always, consult your team of financial and medical professionals before making a move. With these ideas and their advice, you may be better off.

This post originally appeared at HealthCentral.com at http://www.healthcentral.com/caregiver/c/76590/31355/insurance-move

Jonathan Pletzke is a consumer expert on health insurance and author of the health insurance book Get a Good Deal on Your Health Insurance Without Getting Ripped-Off, available online and at bookstores nationally. Additional details can be found at the consumers health insurance book and resources website www.BestHealthInsuranceBook.com. Copyright 2007-2008 Aji Publishing.

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  • 2 Joshua Molan Aug 23, 2008 at 4:25 am

    So how do the insurance companies mitigate risk if there is no underwriting. Wouldn’t that mean that the rates in these states would be far higher than the others.

  • 3 Health Insurance Guide Nov 23, 2008 at 11:50 am

    great post! i especially found it useful where you stated. The U.S. government’s anniversary bill for healthcare spending – $3,925 per actuality – decidedly exceeds that of all added nations. Despite this, our accepted bloom affliction arrangement is more declining both patients and medical practitioners

  • 4 jay gilbert Dec 22, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I’m a college student without insurance, now seeking to be covered.
    12 years ago I had my nose broken in a basketball game, but didn’t seek medical assistance.
    I’m now having problems breathing and need to have an deviated nasal septum operation, but the insurance’s are considered my injury as pre-existing?

  • 5 jpletzke Dec 28, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    jay-

    depending on the state, a 12 year old injury might never come up as a factor. You may be eligible for a guaranteed issue health insurance policy from your school. You may also be able to get treatment from a medical school at a reduced rate.

    Insurers generally won’t cover an issue in most states if you already have a medical need and then apply for insurance. If your injury was still dormant and you had no problems, applied for and were accepted for health insurance, and then had the problem a year or two down the road, then there might not be any issue about pre-existing. It sounds like you have an immediate medical need and the insurers have picked up on that, won’t cover that condition, but may cover other things that may happen from here on out.

  • 6 Joe Gartrell Dec 30, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    You’ve got to be kidding? You’re touting New York and other northeastern states as having affordable health insurance. These states have “level benefits” rules that preclude inexpensive health insurance – the cost is prohibitive for most families and most carriers can’t afford to underwrite policies here (NY), so they stay away.

  • 7 jpletzke Dec 30, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Joe-

    I apologize if somehow it came across that New York has attractive rates for everyone. Since the rate is the same regardless of health, a person with a significant medical condition who may pay $500 a month in New York might find that they can get a much more limited policy somewhere else (like North Carolina) for $2,500. From this perspective it is less. For a healthy, young person the rate might be more like $150 in North Carolina and the same $500 in New York. I hope that this clarifies.

  • 8 Hilda Jan 7, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Wow, impressive blog. I’ve been in the industry for years, and can say that many of my co-workers are less informed than you. Thanks for your insite.

  • 9 Dan Dunlop Jan 10, 2009 at 9:03 am

    I’d love to have your thoughts on the current battle going on in Boston between Tufts Medical Center and BCBS of Massachusetts. BCBSMA reimburses Partners Hospitals physicians (a competitor of Tufts with size and clout) as much as 40% more than Tufts physicians, for the same procedures. When BCBS failed to met Tufts in the middle (Tufts asked for reimbursement rates that were equivalent to the average that BCBS pays academic medical centers in the Commonwealth) negotiations fell apart.

    Tufts is an inner city hospital that handles the toughest, sickest cases. Over the last five years, it has lost $25 million on its Blue Cross Blue Shield business. It is just struggling to survive. Meanwhile BCBSMA made $209 million in net income in 2007 (the last year we have numbers for) on $6.7 billion in premiums. That same year they paid their President and CEO $3.6 million in total compensation. The prior year (2006) BCBSMA chairman and CEO William Van Faasen was paid more than $16 million as part of his overall retirement package in 2006. So they don’t mind compensating their own executives richly, just not the docs who work at smaller, inner city hospitals like Tufts!

    Our system is seriously broken when health insurance companies and their executives get rich while hospitals go broke trying to meet the healthcare needs of the underserved populations within our cities.

    For reference, the battle has been covered in The Boston Globe.

  • 10 monica Feb 19, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    “No Questions asked”
    This is a misleading statement.
    The MIB will know just as soon as the application is made to a carrier.

  • 11 jpletzke Feb 19, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Monica-

    I’m not sure that it matters when you make an application in a state that guarantees that everyone who applies will be accepted. I don’t know if the MIB is alerted when you are accepted for insurance, but I know that the problems can occur when you are rejected.