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No health insurance? Here are some affordable alternative health insurance options

Anyone who's spent just a day in the hospital for emergency care knows that just one day can result in a bill that mounts into the thousands, depending on the care and procedures you need. Lab tests, various imaging tests, anesthesia and surgical procedures can easily produce a bill that's enough to make you sick after you're all fixed up and going home. If you're without health insurance, you might be paying off this bill for a long while into the future.

No one is invulnerable. Young people tend to think health insurance isn't all that important, as they are unlikely to suffer a major condition, such as a heart attack. However, what if you go on a ski vacation and end up breaking your leg? Things happen! These days, it's imperative that everyone have some form of health insurance.

If you're working, but your employer doesn't provide health insurance coverage, or if you've lost your job and your health insurance as well, you'll want to look into the affordable alternative health insurance options that are available.

Your first stop should be your local Department of Human Resources. Every state provides some form of no-cost or affordable alternative health insurance for low income or even no income people. Coverage varies and may be limited. For example, some services, such as dental, may be limited to emergency services, such as a impacted or abscessed tooth. Your premium is based on a sliding fee scale, depending on your income.

Look online for professional association memberships in your field. The memberships are generally paid yearly and many include an affordable alternative health insurance program in the membership benefits. Membership fees vary, as do the benefits, so be sure to check the fine print before you lay down the cash.

Another, newer type of affordable alternative health insurance products are not technically insurance, but a membership for which you pay a monthly fee and receive substantial discounts from health providers. You need to be careful in choosing one of this type of affordable alternative health insurance membership products. Before you sign up, go through their listings to see if there are participating providers in your local area and if the price you'll need to pay for particular services is affordable for you. For example, if you need extensive dental services, such as root canals and crowns, be sure that you can afford the discounted prices. While this type of health insurance product typically discounts pricey procedures by 20-60%, it can still be more than you can pay. Be aware that the provider may not offer a payment plan, so look into the details before you sign up.

All of these options offer affordable alternative health insurance coverage. The state funded Department of Human Resources is probably your best bet, if you can qualify to receive coverage. Naturally, as with any government program, be prepared for a significant amount of paperwork. With recent funding cutbacks, some states will no longer accept applications until new funding is received, so give a call before going in to apply.

Run through all of the affordable alternative health insurance options and find the one that best suits your health needs and budget. Good Luck!

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