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    3. Look into private health insurance.

    You can buy your own health insurance in the private health insurance market. Zirkelbach advises shopping around and taking a careful look at what you're buying, including:

    • Co-payments: a dollar amount you're expected to pay for doctor visits or prescriptions
    • Co-insurance: a percentage of medical bills that you're responsible for
    • In-network and out-of-network doctors: If you have a specific doctor in mind, ask the doctor's office or the health insurance company if that doctor is in the company's network of physicians.
    • Formularies: Find out if your medications are covered and what you would pay for them.

    4. Got kids?

    Find out about your state's children's health insurance program (SCHIP). If you meet certain financial standards, your children may be eligible for coverage through SCHIP. Contact your state health department to find out.

    5. Know your rights about pre-existing conditions.

    If you join a new group health insurance plan -- either through your spouse or partner's plan or in a new job -- you can't be denied coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions, but you may have a waiting period of up to a year in certain situations; the rules are posted on the Department of Labor's web site.

    Private health insurance companies can deny your application for coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

    6. Can't get private health insurance?

    Look into whether your state has a high-risk pool.

    "That is for individuals who have medical conditions or have difficulty getting coverage -- several states have set up what are called high-risk pools that allow those individuals to purchase coverage," Zirkelbach tells WebMD.

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