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Lost Job, Lost Health Insurance: Now What?

Losing your job is hard enough; losing your health insurance, too, is downright daunting. But with a little creativity, you can find the health-care resources you need to protect yourself (and your family) between jobs.

1. See if you qualify for COBRA. It lets you continue buying your former employer's health insurance for up to 18 months. You'll have to pay the premiums, but it's usually less expensive than private plans, especially with the government covering as much as 65 percent of the cost for nine months under the new stimulus package.

2. Tell your doc that you've lost your insurance. Ask if she offers sliding-scale fees or could work out a payment plan for visits.

3. Consider transferring your care to a community health center. A flat fee of $20 is usually requested, but patients are rarely turned away if unable to pay. Go to Findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov.

4. If you or a family member takes daily medication, see if you qualify for free or low-cost assistance programs sponsored by major drug companies at Rxassist.org.

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