After “find a job,” put “stay healthy” on your to-do list if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands who have lost a job in the past month or if you fear a layoff coming on.
Here are key health-care steps you should take if a pink slip looms, recommended by those who have been there and started their own Web sites and blogs devoted to the unemployed:
• Schedule necessary doctor appointments. If you’re still on an employer’s health insurance for a short time, schedule appointments you’ve been putting off. If you wear contact lenses or take regular medication, refill your prescriptions now.
• Don’t get every test out there. The problem: If anything bad turns up, it might make it difficult to get reasonably priced health insurance because you might be diagnosed with a pre-existing condition. If you snore or suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, for instance, hold off on that sleep study until you have more secure health insurance.
• Negotiate with your doctor. Yes, you can. Don’t be shy about asking if your doctor will continue seeing you for a lower rate than what your insurance company was paying.
• Get immunized. Vaccines aren’t just for kids. Make sure you are up-to-date on immunizations while insurance still is paying. Vaccines can help prevent diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and shingles.
• Explore insurance options. If your employer has more than 20 employees, it is legally obligated to offer health insurance coverage through COBRA to terminated employees for 18 months at group rates. However, it’s worth asking if you will be covered for a period of time at no cost to you. You can also consider purchasing an outside individual plan, which is sometimes cheaper. Comparison shop at www.ehealthinsurance.com.
• Eat right and exercise. Both will help you work through the hard times and stay focused on moving forward toward a new job or career.
• On the Web: Among the more helpful social networking sites for victims of the economy are http://pinkslipsarethenewblack.com, www.wisebread.com and www.jobacle.com