Web Exclusive: Preparing for a family medical crisis

Web Exclusive

(CNN) - There's been a lot of recent focus on health insurance thanks to the attention on Obamacare.  But what should you do when your family faces a major medical emergency and not just a routine health concern?  

Even if you have insurance coverage, serious health problems still can be expensive thanks to some additional costs.

The first thing to realize is, you may need an expensive specialist who is out-of-network for your insurance -- meaning higher deductibles, higher co-insurance and other steep pricing.
Advocates say, try to negotiate.  

Check to see what the average in-network costs are in your area for the kind of treatment you need at a site called healthcarebluebook.com. Then ask the doctors you're seeing if they'll take the in-network rate because many will, or ask your insurer to cover the out-of-network doctor as though the doctor is in-network.  

You can do that by showing there may not be specialists in your area who focus only on the kind of condition you have.  Plus, insurers do often cover second opinions, especially because sometimes the first one can be wrong. That will allow you to shop around and to bargain to get the costs down.

You'll also need to think about taking time off of work.  It's a good idea not to say anything about your condition until you know exactly what you'll be getting yourself into, but you do need to speak up before your performance in the office suffers.

You should probably get at least twelve weeks of unpaid leave, and you may get three to six months of paid leave depending on where you work.  But either way, it's a good idea to have a disability insurance policy in order to help you with the costs.


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