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Health Insurance: Stay Protected Amid Layoffs, Budget Cuts

who are not yet eligible for Medicare or for those who are temporarily unemployed and need insurance in the interim. Thirty-four states offer high-risk pools, but the terms of coverage vary by state. Check with your state insurance department to see if your state has a high-risk pool and, if so, what your options are. Go to the NAIC's Web site for a link to your state insurance department:

Maximize Existing Health Insurance Coverage

Those who have health coverage should also explore ways to take full advantage of existing benefits.

    *  Switch to generic prescriptions: If you are insured through your
       employer, your health plan likely provides a discount for generic
       medication. This discount can help you save on monthly out-of-pocket
       health costs. If generic options are not available for your
       medications, work with your doctor to help ensure your medications
       are listed among your health plan's list of preferred prescriptions.
       If a drug is not on the formulary, then there is higher cost-sharing
       (co-insurance or co-pay).

    *  Schedule an annual check-up: Annual physicals can catch health
       problems before they become serious, saving you money in the long
       run. Many insurance plans cover 100 percent of wellness care for
       routine exams, immunizations and diagnostic tests.

    *  Stay in-network: Before booking an appointment, verify that your
       doctor is included in your plan at preferred rates. Sticking to
       network providers helps ensure lower co-payments and out-of-network
       costs. If you need to have a procedure done at an out-of-network
       provider, research the costs and be prepared to negotiate the price.

    *  Use preventive benefits: Some employers offer a subsidized gym
       membership or nutrition pro
SOURCE National Association of Insurance Commissioners
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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