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Sat Jun 16, 2012, 02:08 PM

 

I lost my job - Healthcare - unemployment- help

I was just let go at my company. Almost 9 years. I thought I would retire there. Loved my job. I made ok money. Enough to live in a semi-attached home & provide for my family & let my wife be a stay at home mom while baby-sitting a couple of kids for extra income.

They said it had nothing to do with performance but they eliminated my position.

My scariest thing now is Healthcare. Since my wife is a stay at home mom we cant roll myself & kids onto her healthcare Ins. The company is letting me keep my healthcare until July 31st. They said I can put my kids then in a CHIP program which I know nothing about. But I have no idea what I will do about my wife & me while Im on unemployment.

I live in PA.

I know there was talk with the "Obamacare" plan about a pool of places you can get healthcare.

Did that ever go into effect? Does anyone have any help or suggestions on what to do?

Also when I called the unemployment office they said I only get 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. My friend said thats what they told his wife but that is the states unemployment benefits. After that you go to another level & the Federal benefits start up and give you more time. Is that true?

I hope & pray I find a job way before 26 weeks but I just want to know where I stand in a worst case situation. Its not easy out there.

Again right now Im trying to fight off depression. This hurts and is a major blow. Its hard to look at my kids to be honest. As a father of 2 boys I feel Im supposed to provide & Im a failure. I cant see clear which is why Im coming here for help.

thank you in advance.

35 replies, 3538 views

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Reply I lost my job - Healthcare - unemployment- help (Original post)
BigD_95 Jun 2012 OP
DavidDvorkin Jun 2012 #1
Skittles Jun 2012 #2
freshwest Jun 2012 #5
pnwmom Jun 2012 #3
RebelOne Jun 2012 #34
Ednahilda Jun 2012 #4
Baitball Blogger Jun 2012 #6
rug Jun 2012 #7
WingDinger Jun 2012 #8
nobodyspecial Jun 2012 #13
Ruby the Liberal Jun 2012 #14
nobodyspecial Jun 2012 #17
Ruby the Liberal Jun 2012 #19
Ruby the Liberal Jun 2012 #9
nobodyspecial Jun 2012 #15
Ruby the Liberal Jun 2012 #20
Ms. Toad Jun 2012 #24
Ruby the Liberal Jun 2012 #26
Ms. Toad Jun 2012 #27
Ruby the Liberal Jun 2012 #29
Ms. Toad Jun 2012 #31
Ruby the Liberal Jun 2012 #32
Politicalboi Jun 2012 #10
BeyondGeography Jun 2012 #11
NNN0LHI Jun 2012 #12
steve2470 Jun 2012 #16
mrmpa Jun 2012 #18
aikoaiko Jun 2012 #21
jeff47 Jun 2012 #22
lunasun Jun 2012 #23
Ms. Toad Jun 2012 #25
BigD_95 Jun 2012 #28
HiPointDem Jun 2012 #30
steve2470 Jun 2012 #33
Liberal_in_LA Jun 2012 #35

Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 02:21 PM

1. First, on the emotional/psychological level

Don't in any way blame yourself. You are not a failure. The company is a failure. Management failed. But of course it's the workers who suffer for management's failures.

Practical stuff:

There is a Federal program to extend unemployment benefits. I think it varies by state, depending on the unemployment numbers in the state. Here's some info: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/unemployment/a/unempextension.htm

I don't know what field you're in. I was in the software biz and was laid of quite often during my career (now thankfully ended). I fought against depression partly by busying myself applying for unemployment and scouring all the available job ads and Web sites, and sending out scads of resumes. If nothing else, that gave me a feeling of doing something, of having some control, of not being helpless.

During one of those periods of unemployment, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek essay to cheer myself up. Other people seem to find it helpful in lightening the mood, as well: http://www.dvorkin.com/essays/unemben.htm

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 02:22 PM

2. HEY

I will let others give you healthcare advice but I want you to know YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE and YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Many, many people are in your situation due to the outright GREED of others. It's what OCCUPY is all about. YOU HAVE FRIENDS HERE!!!

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Response to Skittles (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 02:44 PM

5. +1,000

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 02:23 PM

3. Have you asked your employer whether you can apply for COBRA after you have been laid off?

It requires you to pay, but at the lower group rate your employer had been paying, and I believe it covers laid off employees for a year of 18 months.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #3)

Sun Jun 17, 2012, 03:03 PM

34. Yes, he is eligible for COBRA.

When I was laid off in 2010, I was given a packet of information on applying for COBRA. Fortunately, I did not need it as I was already on social security. I had been on my employer's insurance plan, so I just switched to Medicare.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 02:26 PM

4. Hang in there!!!

We went through 2 years of unemployment, a year of terrific income, and now we're unemployed again. One of the worst parts of it is the depression and feeling of uselessness. If you can possibly find something enjoyable and important to do with some of your time, it will make it a little better. Can you volunteer at a local animal shelter a few hours a week? Animals always raise your spirits. It's summertime, does your library have a story hour? Could you read to kids for a while? Is there a local food bank? They're usually looking for volunteers. You've got a lot of hours to fill and getting out of the house and being with other people is the best thing you can do for your mental health.

It is my understanding that PA has 26 weeks of state unemployment, but that the longer term coverage (emergency unemployment) is still in effect, at least for people who are already getting checks. Call your state (not federal) representative or senator. There's somebody in their office who can help you or explain to you exactly what the current benefits are. As for the health care, if you were covered at work, you should be able to pay for COBRA, although it can be pricey. When we've had to pay for COBRA, we don't sign up for the dental so it's a little less expensive. You can ask your state rep.'s office about what kind of lower cost insurance might be around or if the state has an insurance exchange in effect right now. It would be nice if there was one place a newly-unemployed person could go for all of this information, but there isn't. You've got to ask everyone who might know something and eventually you'll get a good picture of what you need to do to survive.

Best to you and your family!

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 02:45 PM

6. Don't despair.

Some responsible college kids are making lucrative money baby sitting other people's kids. In a pinch, you can stay and watch your kids, working on the resume, as she works part time as a baby sitter. It pays very well if you can connect with some career women.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 02:50 PM

7. Here's the CHIP info.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 02:59 PM

8. COBRA is retroactive.

 

pool all your money so that IF you come down with some dread chronic disease, you can start the program. All you must do is pay up till current, retroactively. I believe you have 6 months. If you are lucky, you will not fall ill, and can use that money when again employed.

If you have central air, install a cutoff on it, they will, and save 20%.

And MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, cold call. Getting to them before they develop a slew of requirements to put in job ad, or have thousands of competers, is key. State that you are the key to replacing a rotten employee. Waiting for an opening makes a much longer grilling process. The business yellow pages, and yahoo business to business. Networking too.

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Response to WingDinger (Reply #8)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 03:42 PM

13. Do you have a link for this?

I really don't think this is correct

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Response to nobodyspecial (Reply #13)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 03:45 PM

14. COBRA being retroactive?

It is. It is expensive as you have to pay back all missed premiums and there is a deadline (unsure about the 6 months noted above) but if you reinstate before that will all premiums to date, they will retroactively cover you back to what was supposed to be your start date.

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Response to Ruby the Liberal (Reply #14)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 04:04 PM

17. Not really. It's more complicated than that.

The rules for beginning COBRA

Both you and your former employer must follow proper procedure to initiate COBRA, or else you could forfeit your rights to coverage.

The employer must notify the health plan administrator within 30 to 60 days after an employee's "qualifying event." In cases of divorce, marital separation or a child's loss of "dependent" status, it is you or your family's responsibility to notify the health plan administrator within 60 days of the event. Once notified, the plan administrator then has 14 days to alert you and your family members in person or by first-class mail about your right to elect COBRA.

You, your spouse and/or your children have 60 days to decide whether to purchase COBRA. This "election period" is counted from the date your eligibility notification is sent to you, or the date that you lost your health insurance coverage.

Changing your mind

Your COBRA coverage will be retroactive to the date that you lost your benefits (as long as you pay the premium). During the election period, you might initially decide not to take COBRA, which means you waive your right to coverage. However, as long as the election period hasn't expired, you can change your mind and revoke your waiver.

http://www.insure.com/articles/healthinsurance/cobra.html

So, what this is saying, is that you have 60 days to decide and if you initially decline, you can change your mind and bring you premiums current and have your bills covered. However, if you let the 60 days lapse, it's not like you can join 6 months later or 12 months if you are diagnosed with cancer, for example. If what you are saying was true, no one would buy COBRA initially. They would simply hold out and wait to see if something that costs more than the premiums would come up. It's the same reason there is a mandate with the new health care plan. Nobody would put money out until they got sick.

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Response to nobodyspecial (Reply #17)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 04:27 PM

19. Thanks for the link

Yes - the 60 days sounds vaguely familiar and makes more sense as risk would be lower.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 03:00 PM

9. State Unemployment is different than extended unemployment

which is determined by the Federal Government in tiers. If you state is paying 26 weeks, anything beyond that will depend on any extended unemployment being offered. Clarify with them, but there may not be any extended unemployment after December of this year?

When it comes to health insurance, ask the company about COBRA. By law, you have to have the opportunity to purchase that. It is expensive (anywhere from 2x to 3x what you were paying as an employee plus 2% administrative fees) but it is a federal law that you be able to purchase it for 18 months from separation (in this case, would be July 31 from what you have stated). You may qualify to put your kids on SCHIP and you and your wife on COBRA - which could save quite a bit of money.

Hang in there - I know this is a shock. I was affected by a reorg that eliminated a few roles a few years ago. It is always a hurdle in the beginning.

Start looking for work and file for Unemployment ASAP as it takes time for them to process the claim. Call the company on Monday and inquire about COBRA options.

Best of luck to you.

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Response to Ruby the Liberal (Reply #9)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 03:53 PM

15. If you don't have any pre-existing conditions

that require ongoing care, I would think twice about COBRA. When you are paying full price, it often costs a ton, like your entire unemployment check or more since the subsidy was eliminated. And, on top of that, you'll still be responsible for your share as well. It's enough to keep you away from the doctor even if you have COBRA.

Yes, I realize something catastrophic could happen, but if it does and you don't have a job, you're still royally screwed. And it's a ton of money spent on premiums when you can least afford it. Personally, unless you or your wife have issues, like diabetes, or something that requires expensive prescriptions, I would just skip it and make sure the kids are covered through the state program.

I was scared to go without COBRA. Spent thousands, didn't use it and it still ran out before I got a new plan. I thought it would be a disaster. But, I rely on the CVS or Walgreens clinics for the basics, Costco mail order pharmacy for drugs, and community health fairs for free screenings like glucose and cholesterol. Amazingly, I'm still alive.

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Response to nobodyspecial (Reply #15)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 04:30 PM

20. The problem is with the ACA protections

(Which are good, but you have to play by the restrictions)

If you don't have a gap in coverage, they can't apply preexisting conditions to a privately purchased plan. If you are re-employed, its moot because pre-existing doesn't count under employer plans, but if you have to go it alone and buy your own, you can't have lapsed on coverage for a certain amount of time.

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Response to Ruby the Liberal (Reply #20)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 08:06 PM

24. The gap also applies to employer plans.

If you have a gap of 63 days, your pre-existing conditions for which you have received treatment are not covered for a period of time (related to the length of the gap - generally capped at 12 months, but can extend to 18 months in some instances).

http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq_consumer_hipaa.html

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #24)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 09:13 PM

26. Thanks, and question:

Thanks for the 63 days - I didn't remember the specifics on that.

I am shopping for new private insurance to see if I can't get a better rate right now and was informed that as long as you don't have a gap, there are no preexisting clauses, but with a gap, they can deny 12 months going back 60 (5 years). It was also noted in the call that employer plans do not have this exclusion.

Is this employer-contract based where they can negotiate to have this included or not?

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Response to Ruby the Liberal (Reply #26)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 11:20 PM

27. Generally, with private insurance, you are entirely out of luck.

HIPAA bars refusal to offer a policy based on pre-existing conditions as long as the employer offers insurance. For private plans, any insurance company can refuse to offer a policy based on pre-existing conditions (gap or no gap, and for conditions going back to infancy - absent state law restrictions). The exception is that when you leave an employer based policy, you are entitled to purchase a private policy (the requirements are: Had coverage for at least 18 months, most recently in a group health plan, without a significant break; Lost group coverage but not because of fraud or nonpayment of premiums; Are not eligible for COBRA coverage; or if COBRA coverage was offered under Federal or state law, elected and exhausted it; and Are not eligible for coverage under another group health plan, Medicare, or Medicaid; or have any other health insurance coverage.) You are entitled to keep that private policy going indefinitely (but there are no caps on premiums), but you are not necessarily entitled to different coverage under a different carrier.

The other way pre-existing conditions play a role is that employer plans can exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions for individuals based on too short coverage at the previous job, or based on gap longer than 63 days. Those exclusions range can be up to 18 months (based on circumstances) for any pre-existing condition for which treatment was or should have been obtained within the preceding 6 months (i.e. a 6 month look back period). Employers can negotiate shorter periods, but not longer ones.

Private plans (aside from the one in the 1st paragraph above) could theoretically offer a policy but exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions - but I was not able to find one that would when I was looking for one. The federal law doesn't place any limits on private policies.

So - sorry I'm not very hopeful for private coverage options. Until 2014, except for the high risk pools and children, there are pretty much no Federal rights.

Don't cancel your current insurance until you have new insurance. If you find something that looks good, work with a broker to feel out the insurance companies to see whether there is any company that might be friendlier to pre-existing conditions. If it looks good - apply simultaneously to all companies. (Once you get a rejection, generally that is usually an automatic rejection for other companies - applying simultaneously means you can say at the time of the application you have not been rejected by any other company (even if the round of applications generates one or more rejections - and that possibility should be weighed in deciding whether to apply at all)).

Personally, I'd wait until after the Supreme Court decides to make any changes. Getting a rejection on my record has vastly different implications under the new law than if the new law is overturned.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #27)

Sun Jun 17, 2012, 12:02 AM

29. WOW. This is incredibly helpful.

I have coverage now, and no preexisting conditions - but I trust these assholes about as far as I could toss them. Those looking into private coverage will no doubt benefit from this information as well.

Thank you so much for taking the time to type all of this out. Very helpful!

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Response to Ruby the Liberal (Reply #29)

Sun Jun 17, 2012, 12:14 AM

31. You're welcome.

I've been working on a blog about access to health care between now and 2014- and it has been a major issue for me since our non-traditional family (full of major pre-existing conditions) is always at risk for losing coverage. So I had to verify some details, but the general concepts are just part of what I carry around with me.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #31)

Sun Jun 17, 2012, 01:55 PM

32. I would greatly appreciate a link to that

once you are ready to publish.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 03:04 PM

10. If you're close to Morgantown Pa

Check out a place called Timet. They deal with Titanium. They have or had profit sharing and paid good, and excellent health coverage. Safety awards, attendance awards $90.00 dollar WalMart card for not missing 3 months of work. Last time I worked there was in July of 07. I now live back in Ca again. I started through Manpower temp service, and got hired 3 months later, and my insurance started.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 03:11 PM

11. You need to take care of yourself first

That means don't beat yourself up. Your family loves you and will support you emotionally. They will do more than enough worrying for you. Try to be as strong as you can for them.

You also need enough sleep at night to have the energy to focus on the outside world by day. Part of that is wearing yourself with productive activity during the day. Personally, when I was legitimately afraid of losing my job last year, I needed a minor OTC remedy. My point is sleeplessness and depression are real risks for a lot of us in this situation.

Stay engaged with the outside world as many ways as you can. Work and productivity is essential to emotional stability. Whatever you can think of to put yourself on the radar of someone who can help you professionally, do it.

Be well. Good luck to you.

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Response to BeyondGeography (Reply #11)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 03:37 PM

12. That is probably some of the best advice ever given on DU

Best of luck to you BigD 95.

Don

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Response to BeyondGeography (Reply #11)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 03:55 PM

16. yes, great advice

To the OP: If you can, try to get some exercise to get some fresh air and decrease your stress levels. Keeping your stress under control will be essential.

Don't be ashamed to go for counseling. Many many people go these days and it can be invaluable to help you keep your spirits up, keep your perspective, get some emotional support and get through this easier. There are probably people in your county/area who accept patients/clients for free or on a "sliding fee scale", which means your ability to pay. You can always tell the counselor upfront you are now unemployed, so they may not charge you anything. Of course, your current insurance company may also have a list of people that they pay for, subject to a deductible.

YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. This has happened to millions of Americans (indeed, other countries as well). You've gotten excellent advice in this thread, and I wish you and your family all the best ! Keep coming back here and report your progress, please.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 04:11 PM

18. Take a deep breath..........

PA resident here. First thing you do is get your boys on the CHIPS program for their healthcare. You can be cobra'd for 20 months. If you decide to cobra, don't put your sons on it, just you & your wife. Your sons go onto CHIPS. When you get the forms from your employer, indicate you want to COBRA. Payment is not due immediately. You have time to pay it. I'm not sure about the retroactive period that previous poster spoke about. Call the kids pediatrician, they'll have info on CHIPS.

You did nothing wrong, you didn't fail. It seems like the world has crumbled down around you, but it will eventually be okay. It's going to be rough, but I'm going to assume that you have a good wife and family.

Here's an idea, since your wife is all ready babysitting a few kids a week, might this be the time for you and her to consider having a daycare facility from your home?

Keep us in the loop.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 04:51 PM

21. Take a deep breathe, try to put the big worries aside, and enjoy Father's Day.


Keep it simple and enjoy your kids this weekend. They probably love their daddy and have no idea about the real financial issues facing you. Let them love you and take it in because you deserve it. As a father who had moments when I struggled with feeling like a failure, those moments pass.

Don't panic yet. Take stock.

When I was looking at losing my job I realized that if I cashed out my retirement plan I could support my family on a meager budget for two years.

You'd be surprised how many assets you may have to liquidate. You may not need two cars if you have two.

Use available resources like unemployment, food pantries, food stamps, etc.

Start to cut the budget where ever possible. Cable is not a necessity even though when you have kids it seems that way.


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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 05:33 PM

22. There is one thing you are doing very wrong at the moment.

You didn't tell us what job you are looking for.

We have no idea if you're an accountant or an astronaut. So even if we know of a job opening, we can't help you by telling you about it.

Tell EVERYONE you come across what kind of work you are looking for. When you introduce yourself to people, your name is no longer "BigD". It's "BigD the <occupation>". It's unlikely that a particular person will know of an opening that fits, but the more people that know, the better your odds of landing a job.

Furthermore, job seeking advice is usually very tied to the industry in which you are seeking a job. My advice as a software developer isn't going to help you land a sales job, and a sales guy's advice won't land you a programming job. For example the resume format for each of those is completely different.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 05:34 PM

23. CHIP is

looking good if no COBRA ...
Happy Daddy's day & I hope you all have memories of a great day together.
That's the important thing, although so much seems more urgent right now.

//www.chipcoverspakids.com/

Pennsylvania's CHIP program provides health insurance to all uninsured children and teens who are not eligible for or enrolled in Medical Assistance. There are a lot of reasons kids might not have health insurance - whatever the reason, CHIP may be able to help.Parents may think their kids can't get CHIP because they make too much money. Not true! No family makes too much money for CHIP because there is no income limit.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 08:25 PM

25. The advice about the kids for healthcare is good -

For you and your wife, as long as you don't have pre-existing conditions that need ongoing care, consider short term insurance. It is very cheap and covers pretty much everything but pre-existing conditions. (You can obtain this insurance with pre-existing conditions (I have), it just doesn't cover those conditions - and since mine was not likely to recur, it wasn't an issue. There is usually a high deductible - but it protects any savings you have built up by creating a stop loss - above a certain amount your expenses are covered. The policies range from 6 months to 18 months, and once you use up the period for the first, you will need to switch to another - but it is manageable. I used them for 2-3 years in the early 90s, and they haven't changed much since then. I have gone through a broker when I have needed this insurance, but here are a couple of websites that will give you some information about prices:

http://www.ehealthinsurance.com/
http://www.short-termhealthinsurance.com/

Another option - if you have a university nearby - see if they offer student insurance and what level of enrollment is required to be eligible. That might give you some new marketable skills, as well as make cheap insurance available. I switched to student insurance when I went back to school - and it covered the hospitalization I needed the last year of school.

Finally, if you have major pre-existing conditions, consider enrolling in COBRA for a month and getting all of the treatment you possibly can out of the way during that month (including buying 90 days of medication on the last day of coverage), going without coverage for 6 months (and paying the costs out of pocket - which should be limited to 3 months worth if you plan carefully), then applying under the pre-existing condition pool for your state (assuming it isn't wiped out by the Supreme Court in the next two weeks).

Here is the info about the pool in PA: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/features/choices/pre-existing-condition-insurance-plan/pa.html

Good luck - I've been where you are (although it was my spouse who was fired a week before our daughter was born - when I was the stay-at-home mom).

(In case anyone else is in these circumstances, here is the general information: https://www.pcip.gov/StatePlans.html )

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 11:54 PM

28. Thank you all

 

Thank you all so much. Your words are very helpful. I took my boys hiking today to get my mind off everything. Hey its free & the kids love it!


I work in the printing Industry in the Pre-press department as a Electronic Pre-press Tech & did some minor graphic work.

I live near York, PA close to Lancaster & Harrisburg.

We have no pre-existing issue as far as healthcare goes.

I will check into a lot of the stuff you guys wrote. I been a member here for a long time at least over 9 years. I knew I could count on the people in the DU!!!

thanks again so much.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sun Jun 17, 2012, 12:11 AM

30. never believe that *you* failed or that you're not a good dad. the system failed *you*. keep

 

your head up. your boys love you for who you are and how you treat them, not because of your job. if families pull together in hard times, they can get through them.

i have no other advice, but that's important stuff. best wishes to you & your family.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sun Jun 17, 2012, 02:07 PM

33. any more help or ideas for this gentleman ?

He said he was in the printing business.

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Response to BigD_95 (Original post)

Sun Jun 17, 2012, 03:17 PM

35. k&r

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