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Online health insurance help: 10 government web tools to use Posted: August 5th, 2012

By Barbara Marquand

Navigating the health care system can be a pain in the neck, but rest assured some relief is at hand. In fact, it's right at your fingertips.

Loads of information is available online to help you find the resources you need, and much of it is available through the federal government.

Here are 10 health care quandaries and links to online help.

1. What does the federal health care reform law do?

Healthcare.gov, a site by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, gives the latest news about health care reform, including a timeline of what's changing and when.

2. How do I find insurance for my family?

A tool to help you find options best suited to your needs is available on the Healthcare.gov website.

3. Are my kids eligible for a government insurance program for low-income families?

Check the Children's Health Insurance Plan website, a state and federal program for insuring children of low-income families. The site provides an interactive map to learn about the program in your state.

4. How do I find low-cost health care if I'm uninsured?

The Health Resources and Services Administration provides a search tool to find a health center that provides care even if you have no insurance. These federally funded health care centers charge on a sliding scale, based on what you can afford.

5. How do I keep my employer-sponsored coverage when I'm laid off?

The U.S. Department of Labor provides information about COBRA continuation coverage. COBRA, created by the federal Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act, lets famiies continue coverage through employer-sponsored health insurance after loss of a job, death or divorce.

6. Is there an insurance plan for people with pre-existing conditions?

Yes, it's called the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, created under the federal health care reform law. A PCIP website explains who is eligible for the plan and how to apply.

7. I turn 65 soon. How do I learn about the different parts of Medicare?

The federal government's Medicare website provides all the information you need, including a rundown on the basics of Medicare.

8. How do I compare Medicare health plans, Medigap or drug plans?

The Medicare website offers a Medicare Plan Finder, which lets you compare and enroll in plans available in your area.

9. Where can I find doctors?

Healthfinder.gov, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, provides links to more than two dozen tools to search for health care providers in a variety of specialties.

10. How do I find programs to help pay for prescriptions?

Healthfinder.gov provides links to prescription assistance programs, which help uninsured and underinsured patients get the drugs they need.

All of the websites mentioned here provide other information and tools as well to help you learn more about your health and medical insurance coverage.