Uninsured? Get the Facts

Dan Russo worked in the health insurance industry for 20 years, but when he lost his job he lost his insurance.

"Insurance should be portable, it should be available and it should be affordable," said Russo, 57.

But the Russos have found none of those things to be true. Dan and his wife, Judith, who recently had knee surgery, pay more than $36,000 a year for health insurance.

"What we tried to save for retirement is disappearing before retirement age," he said.

VIDEO: Laid-off Americans spend their retirement money on health insurance.

More than 20 percent of baby boomers say they're worried they won't be able to afford medical care this year.

Forty-five million Americans have no health insurance, and with unemployment numbers on the rise, that number is growing.

Lillie Shockney, a nurse at Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center, says she's been receiving e-mails from some of them.

"They're fearful that the symptoms could very well be that of a diagnosis of breast cancer and they don't have health-care insurance for getting a mammogram, diagnostic evaluation, seeing a doctor, much less embarking on breast cancer treatment," Shockney said.

One e-mail she received came from a 13-year-old girl whose mother was having troubling symptoms.

She wrote: "My mom has been having blood coming from one of her breasts. She was recently laid off from work and doesn't have insurance. She doesn't want to see a doctor because she is worried about the bills. I'm worried though that she might have breast cancer. Is this breast cancer?"

Shockney urges the women who write to her to see a doctor, but more and more patients are saying that, for them, it's no longer an option.

Dr. Tim on Possible Reforms

ABC News medical editor Dr. Tim Johnson calls stories like these an outrage.

"The whole point of insurance is that the wealthy and the well pay for the sick and poor ... to spread the risk as wide as possible," Johnson said. "We've got it backwards in this country, and it's got to change."

President Obama will introduce Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today as the new secretary of Health and Human Services, kicking off a week in which health care comes into stark focus in Washington.

Here are some of the reforms the government is considering.

What's New With Cobra?

Cobra allows people who have lost jobs to keep their health insurance by paying a monthly fee, which can often be very expensive.

Under a new plan, the government would pick up 65 percent of Cobra costs. The average family that paid $12,900 a year for Cobra would pay $4,200 under the new Cobra rules.

What If You Can't Get Cobra?

If you can't get Cobra or it is still too expensive, another option is to get coverage through a spouse or domestic partner's health insurance -- even if the coverage's enrollment period has passed.

There are usually enrollment periods when you can join a spouse's health insurance, but if you lose your insurance, you have a 30-day window to enroll in a spouse's program.

What About Kids?

The Children's Health Insurance Program provides health insurance to children from families not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, but still unable to afford private health insurance.

Obama signed an extension of CHIP into law Feb. 4.

The $31.5 billion legislation will preserve coverage for as many as 6.7 million children enrolled in the program and will provide coverage to an additional 3.9 million uninsured, low-income children in the United States.

Manufacturing Jobs That Went Overseas

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