If you live in Ohio and have recently lost your job…you’re not alone. The state has lost more than 260,000 jobs since 2000, about 5 percent of all jobs. The hardest hit areas have been Trumbull County, losing 20.5 percent of its jobs, and Montgomery County, losing 14.1% of its jobs.
President Barack Obama’s health care ideas are now facing delay, when Tom Daschle, who was chosen to head the initiative, suddenly withdrew his nomination for the health secretary position. Health care reform has taken a back seat to more important matters…such as the failing economy and helping auto manufacturers and some financial institutions.
If you find yourself out of a job, between jobs, or your employer is reducing your hours, your health insurance may be affected. In many cases, your current coverage extends for a few months (or less), and then the search for an affordable individual medical plan begins. But there are many affordable options, including those persons with serious health conditions.
Cobra is one option. Under this program, workers laid off from companies with 20 or more employees can extend their employee-provided health insurance for 18 months. Of course…premiums are often extremely expensive. And with the current recession and no end in sight, Cobra’s premiums are not a viable health insurance option for many Ohioians.
However, if you have no significant medical issues, such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease, you may qualify for an individual policy. The application process is simple and physicals are rarely required. The most popular Ohio companies are Anthem Blue Cross, UnitedHealthCare, Medical Mutual, Humana and Aetna. Kaiser and SummaCare are great options in the Northern portion of the state.
For example, in Franklin County, a nonsmoking family of four (Parents-Age 40 & Children-Ages 8 & 10), with no medical issues, can buy a “catastrophic health” plan for about $140 per month. A “comprehensive” plan, which offers many more coverages, would cost between $250 and $330 per month, depending on the major medical deductible.
Naturally, prices will be substantially less if only one person is insured. Also, existing medical conditions can raise the rate. With your own policy, your coverage is portable, so you may keep the policy as long as you want. Also…with individual coverage, unlike group coverage, your rate is not affected by a large amount of unhealthy persons in the group.
The Office Of Unemployment Compensation can also assist you with other matters besides your medical benefits. They will help you find a job, estimate your unemployment compensation, discuss eligibility requirements and many other helpful topics.
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UPDATE: September 2013. A lot has changed since the original article was written in 2009. However, unemployment in Ohio is still a problem. And so is underemployment, where workers often accept positions in which they are vastly overqualified for.
However, a big positive change is that regardless of your health status, you will be able to find quality benefits if you lose your job. And since a federal tax subsidy is now based on your individual or family income, you’ll probably pay much less for a policy now, compared to prices in 2009. If you fall under 400% of the “Federal Poverty Level,” you are entitled to financial aid.