Solve your health care challenges

Premiums soaring? Your insurer denied your claim? Retiree benefits got slashed? Try these strategies to cure what ails you when it comes to getting and paying for medical care.

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6. You've got a pre-existing condition
You've got a pre-existing condition
More than one-third of adults who try to buy health insurance on their own are turned down or charged more because of a pre-existing condition or have that condition excluded from coverage, the Commonwealth Fund reports. Health reform will prohibit insurers from rejecting children on this basis later this year. But the protection for adults does not begin until 2014.

The solution: If you've gone without insurance for six months or more, you'll be able to buy coverage at rates comparable to those paid by healthy people starting in July through a new national high-risk pool created by the health reform law. Otherwise, you'll have to wait more than three years for relief.

In the meantime, try to get on a group plan, which covers all members, regardless of health status, at the same price. (You may have to wait three to 12 months for the preexisting condition to be covered.)

Another option: Seek help finding an affordable individual policy from a licensed health insurance agent (find one at, who can often steer you to an insurer that is friendlier to your condition.

Your last resort should be seeking coverage through an existing high-risk insurance pool; most states have one or a similar backstop. But your wallet will take a beating: Premiums can run up to three times as much as the average rate in the individual market. Find out the details about high-risk coverage in your state at

NEXT: You lost your job ... and your health care
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Last updated May 14 2010: 9:25 AM ET
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