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I recently quit my job. I know health insurance is a must, but paying $600 a month to continue my coverage is a no go. My savings will be depleted at that rate – for coverage I may not use. What are my health care options as an unemployed person?


If you expect to be unemployed for a long time, you may qualify for Medicaid, a joint federal and state program for citizens and green card holders with little income or other resources. If you’re ineligible for Medicaid or choose not to apply, and if your assessment of your health is accurate, then you could opt for a high-deductible insurance policy, one that won’t shell out until you’ve spent, say, $5,000 or even $10,000 on medical care within a year. The odds of a healthy person spending so much are quite low – some catastrophic illness or accident would have to befall you – but such a policy would help to ensure that you’re not wiped out financially if one of those rare events occurred. The rarity makes the premiums on a high-deductible policy relatively low, too, so you wouldn’t be paying much for the protection.
If you choose to go for high-deductible insurance and pay for medical care out of pocket, you can get a break from Uncle Sam by opening a health savings account. Available to individuals who buy high-deductible policies, the accounts allow them to pay for care – medicine (but not over-the-counter remedies beginning in 2011), doctor’s visits and more – with before-tax dollars, so whatever is put into an account produces a write-off at the participant’s top federal income tax rate.
-Conrad de Aenlle