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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

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Declined for coverage

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If you notice an error or are in doubt, please send a new question by email or ask for an update. Email

Q: My husband takes an anti-anxiety medication, but has not had any therapy or other intervention. Still, because of this we are having trouble getting health insurance for him. Is this considered a pre-existing condition, or just too risky? We've been doing short-term health insurance for 18 months now, and really feel we need to move into a permanent plan, but can't pay large premiums (unemployed). I also don't want to keep paying the nonrefundable application fees for these companies, just to have them turn him down. Any advise?

A: Your problem is not the pre-existing condition, but rather the history of being declined for coverage. This stays on your Medical Information Bureau report for at least ten years. Being declined for health insurance is a very serious matter that could affect your ability to obtain health insurance for years to come. A "decline" may cause ripple effects on your ability to qualify for life or disability insurance or even qualify for some employment positions. You should never apply to a health insurance company without first determining that you are eligible. Any agent or enrollment adviser will be able to show the eligibility requirements before you apply. In your case it is important to work with an experienced health underwriter. Unfortunately, some insurance companies are simply trying to sell policies with no consideration to the effects on those who are declined for coverage. Your question indicates that the damage is already done, so this response is posted only to help others avoid similar problems. As you indicated, there are no affordable permanent individual health insurance plans that will accept a person who has previously been declined for coverage by another health plan. At this point, an extended 36 month short term medical insurance policy offers the best quality coverage at the lowest price. See the listings at for your state. All of these plans are immediate online application and approval so there is no chance of being declined - if you do not qualify for medical reasons then the automated application process simply tells you so.


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