Uninsured? Get the Facts

Find out about new benefits and links to health-care resources.

March 2, 2009— -- 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.

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

If your job moved overseas or if you were laid off because imported products are replacing the product your company makes, you could be eligible to have the government pay up to 80 percent of your health-care costs for up to three years.

This is called the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act and 146,983 people took advantage of the benefit between October 2006 to September 2007.

Before February 2009, the government assisted with 65 percent of insurance costs. The government has increased that to 80 percent until January 2011.

Visit Public Health Clinics or Hospitals

If you need medical care and can't afford it, Johnson says check out public health clinics or hospitals in your area.

More Resources

For information on health care for the uninsured, please check out the resource links below.

And if you're having problems with your insurance or health care let "GMA" know by clicking here.

Families USA

Lost your job? Find out how you can get covered by clicking here.

Cover the Insured

Get the facts about finding health insurance in your state by clicking here.

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance

See if you are eligible for free or low cost medicine at the Partnership for Prescription Assistance by clicking here.

Coverage for All

Get a complete U.S. directory of health-care options by clicking here.

Plan for Your Health

This helpful glossary of terms can help you make sense of your health-care options.

Insure Kids Now

Your kids have a lot of health-care options. Click here for more information.

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