Get health insurance before illness gets worse

Suppose a disease is detected, can I get medical insurance for it before it gets severe?  I’m talking about ankylosing spondylitis.  I do not know if the full course of treatment will be required in the future, but I could end up needing surgery.

Not Sick Yet

Dear Not Sick Yet,

For the rest of 2013, if you do not currently have health insurance or you have a 63-day lapse in your health insurance, then you will not be able to get a health insurance plan that covers your illness. At least, it would not cover the illness for the first 12 months after you join.

This is true if you have been diagnosed and/or treated for the condition in the 6 months before you join the new plan. If you were diagnosed years ago and have had no symptoms or treatment, then it would not be considered a pre-existing condition.   In that case, the illness would be covered as if it were new.

All of this goes away in 2014.

In 2014, health plans will have to cover all of your pre-existing conditions no matter what. Keep in mind, however, that you will not be able to buy health insurance when it is convenient for you (i.e. when your condition gets worse and you need care). You will only be able to buy a new plan at open enrollment, or when you have a family status change, like getting married or divorced.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.