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Your Health Insurance concerns answered

Questions about healthcare coverage? Health Navigators have help for you, from our Answer Desk

Healthcare coverage was our Monday call-in topic, and we answered your questions about the way to ensure coverage without spending all your savings.

Here is some advice from ACR Health's Steve Wood, who headed up the team of Healthcare Navigators answering your phone questions:

>If you run up a big bill with a hospital, do apply for financial assistance, which is available from every hospital locally. Wood says a financial rep may come to you during your stay, but if you don't grasp what's being offered (if, for example, you're recovering from anesthetics) you can apply after you leave. Healthcare Navigators can help with the process.

>Over 80% of nursing home patients in NY are on Medicaid. If you have Medicare but your circumstances change , it's ok to apply for Medicare for additional financial help.
Wood says it's a 14 page application with lots of in-depth questions, and he suggests getting help to fill it out, because otherwise you cannot afford a nursing home on a fixed income.

>You should apply for Medicare when you're 65, starting 3 months before and until 3 months after your birthday. If you then want to change your coverage, there's a window for updates, November 1 - December 15. Wood suggests you review your coverage and amend, as needed, every year.

>The enrollment window for NY State of Health also opens November 1st. This is for qualified healthcare plans offered by major insurers that you pay premiums on.
Despite the healthcare debate in Washington, you should plan on continuing coverage. The 'contract' agreed to this fall would go into effect in January, for a year.

If you need help with insurance issues, ACR Health offers free services from several Central NY locations. www.ACRHealth.org or 315 475-2430.

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