Do you want to get a health insurance plan but can’t find one that suits your budget? Worry no more because this article has got you covered, as we will be giving you tips on how to shop for low-cost health insurance.
In today’s challenging economy, many people are forced to adopt cost-saving measures in all areas of their life. One area that many people overlook when cutting costs is their health insurance coverage. According to a recent study from the Commonwealth Fund, the cost of health care is the primary reason why Millennials are delaying major milestones like home ownership, marriage, and children.
You should know that if you don’t have enough money to pay for something, you need to find a way to cut the costs. If you’re looking for ways to cut your monthly healthcare expenses while maintaining adequate coverage in case of an emergency, then shopping around for a low-cost insurer is the perfect solution. However, with so many different insurance providers available today, it can be difficult determining which one is right for your situation. To help you get started on the right path, we’ve compiled some useful information regarding how you can shop for affordable health insurance and save money in the process.
The cost of healthcare keeps rising annually, and this expenses might be too much for an average American. Many people are forgoing medical services, prescription drugs, and other related products because of their high costs. Unless you’ve been fortunate enough to have employer-provided health insurance, chances are you’re one of the millions of Americans who can no longer afford to pay for private health coverage.
Health insurance can be an expensive proposition, especially if you have a pre-existing condition or other risk factors that make you uninsurable. However, low income earners have affordable options like qualifying for government subsidies. There other ways to get an affordable health insurance plan if you don’t have a job based health benefit.
The marketplace is where most people get Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage. Government programs like Medicaid offer low-cost or free health insurance to people with limited income and resources. You may also find private insurance plans outside the marketplace and government programs. How you shop for health insurance will depend on your circumstances. Still, the more information you have upfront about what’s available to you, the easier it will be to find affordable options that meet your needs.
However, there are ways to cut health insurance costs that don’t involve settling for a bare-bones plan that won’t adequately cover any potential medical bills.
Let’s get started on how to shop for low-cost insurance.
How to shop for low-cost insurance
The fact that healthcare cost keeps rising daily is no secret. An average American actually spends more than $10,000 every year on health insurance plan. However, you don’t have to continue paying such high amount. Many employers offer a variety of insurance plans to choose from, and you may even get perks like a wellness incentive or an employee assistance program.
With so much attention paid to healthcare and its costs, you may feel like there is no good solution if you’re looking for affordable insurance as an independent adult.
However, not all is lost! There are ways to get coverage at a more affordable rate if you take the time to research your options in detail. Here is an overview of some health insurance companies that offer low-cost health plans.
1. Get a health insurance policy at Medicaid
Medicaid is a federal and state health insurance company in the United States that helps people with limited finances with healthcare. It provides low-income earners with government-based health insurance. It’s comprehensive health insurance that offers many services to its clients.
Medicaid, founded in 1982, is the biggest health insurance company that provides medical and healthcare for low-income earners in the United States. They offer free health insurance to over 74 million disabled and people with low income. In 2017, Medicaid provided free health insurance to 23% of the United States population, and also, as of 2019, they paid for half of all the births in the United States.
Medicaid, in most cases, offers free health insurance policy to those who qualify. Some states charge a little premium for eligible income scale people at the higher end of Medicaid.
Clients using the Medicaid health insurance plan won’t have to pay for deductibles, premiums, and copayments.
Medicaid services differ in each state in America. You must meet up with the below-listed guidelines to be eligible. Depending on different factors, the guidelines vary, e.g., your age, if you are pregnant, or you are disable.
Here is a list that Medicaid covers in most states:
- Pregnant women and children: Both pregnant women and children are qualified for this healthcare plan even if their household income is above the federal poverty level.
- 65+ age: Adults above the age of 65 are qualified as long as they have few assets and are low-income earners.
- Adults under age 65: Adults who are below 65 can qualify for this free health insurance plan if their household income is not above 138% of the federal poverty level.
Some states are strict with their eligibility criteria for adults under 65 age. To qualify for Medicaid in those states, you must meet up with their requirements which may include: being a member of a medically vulnerable group (i.e., disabled people, pregnant women, parents of a minor child, etc.)
As of 2022, you need to meet up with other eligibility criteria other than being a low-income earner to qualify for the Medicaid free health insurance plan in 11 states in America.
Can Immigrants Qualify?
Immigrants who have stayed in the United States for 5 years or more are sometimes considered for the healthcare plan if they meet the eligibility requirements. There are also exceptions for undocumented US immigrants to be considered for the healthcare plan.
Short-term limited Medicaid emergency coverage for pregnant women is an example of exceptions that Medicaid offers to undocumented immigrants.
Another example of an exception for undocumented immigrants is seen in California, where Medicaid is eligible for undocumented children and young adults who meet up with the eligibility criteria in terms of income. The eligibility criteria vary from each state.
Who sponsors Medicaid?
The federal and state government sponsors Medicaid from the tax. Medicaid being administered at the state level is one of the reasons each state’s eligibility criteria and coverage differs in the United States.
If you are qualified for a Medicaid healthcare plan, know that your friends, neighbors, employer, and fellow citizens are indirectly paying for your health bills with the tax they pay.
Apply for Medicaid through your state’s ACA HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE
2. Check if you qualify for the Affordable Care Act Subsidy
The Affordable Care Act (previously known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) are credits from tax available to people whose net income falls between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. The ACA was signed into law on March 23, 2010, by President Barack Obama. It was established to help low-income earners purchase their own health insurance plans by offering them government subsidies.
In 2016 the Affordable Care Act covered over 24 million people who were not insured. The ACA covers the monthly premium of people qualified for this subsidy.
How the Affordable Care Act Subsidy works:
Once you are qualified to be offered this subsidy, you can get a health insurance plan and place it to the ACA, so they offset your monthly premium.
In essence, through the ACA, the government pays 50% of your monthly premium and leaves you to pay the rest.
You are allowed to use the subsidy to purchase only the Obamacare health insurance, which is sold in the ACA’s health insurance exchanges, also known as the marketplace. The subsidy cannot be used to purchase a health plan from another insurance company, even your health insurance through your job.
Who Qualifies for the Subsidies?
Even if your income is above the federal poverty level by 400%, you can still qualify for the monthly premium depending on your age and where you live.
Your eligibility criteria depend on the cost of your benchmark relative to your income. You are not eligible if your benchmark is above 8.5% of your income without any subsidy. Also, if your benchmark is below 8.5% of your income, you are qualified.
Undocumented immigrants are not qualified to receive the Affordable Care Acts Subsidies. Although documented or legally residing immigrants are qualified.
How to apply
You can apply for a health insurance subsidy through your state’s health insurance exchange HERE.
3. Purchase a Short term Health Insurance plan
Short-term Health Insurance refers to a health insurance plan that has a limited duration (i.e., several months to a year). The short-term health care plan was established to bridge the gap between longer-term plans for people who are in need of temporal medical insurance.
For instance, young adults who are no longer eligible to use their parent’s health insurance plan and there looking for the best health plan for them, people who changed jobs, or students who just got enrolled in post-graduate school. They can all use the short-term health insurance plan until they find the perfect plan.
The short-term health insurance plan is less expensive than the long-term or comprehensive plan. Healthcare plans are sold in some states for up to 364 days of coverage. At the same time, some are sold in terms of up to 36 months. Some states in the United States don’t allow the sale of short-term health insurance plans.
Is a Short Term Plan Preferable?
The short-term plan is not a good idea. Although it is less expensive, you need to understand the coverage and services it offers.
For instance, while on a short-term insurance plan, you cannot receive benefits or discounts from the health insurance company.
Essential health benefits like mental health care and maternity care are not covered while on a short-term plan. This plan also doesn’t offer prescription drug coverage to its patient.
If you use a short-term plan, you should know that the plan doesn’t offer coverage for any pre-existing medical candidates.
You will get turned down to use this short-term plan if the insurer thinks you are a risk to cover. On the other hand, you might get the short-term insurance if you are healthy, young, and not seen as a risk.
How to Buy a short term Plan
There are a few ways to buy a short term health insurance plan:
You can buy the policy directly from a health insurance company from an insurance agent, or through a health insurance broker.
4. Get a Job-Based Health Plan from your employer
A job-Based health plan is a healthcare plan offered to an employee by an employer. Healthcare plans offered by a union to their members can also be referred to as a job-based health plan. Job-based health insurance oftentimes extends to the employee’s family members.
Not all employers offer their employees a health insurance plan. Those who either pay part of their employee’s premium or pay all. This offer is common in businesses or organization that offers their employees health benefits.
When you get a job that offers you health benefits, you will be given a limited time to sign up for the health insurance. This is because most companies pay group healthcare plans for their employees. So if you don’t meet up with the deadline, you have to wait up till the next year when the company wants to renew the deductible.
The duration to sign up for your company’s healthcare plan often lasts 30 to 90 days.
Who Pays for Coverage?
In a job-based health plan, some employers pay part of the premium while you pay the rest. Some companies pay the healthcare insurance plan of their employees in full, leaving their employees to pay nothing, and some employers pay part of the insurance plan and automatically take the remaining from your paycheck, so you don’t have to remember to pay a healthcare bill every month.
What happens to your healthcare plan if you lose your job?
In most cases, if you lose your job, you automatically lose your job-based health insurance plan. In some cases, you may still be eligible until the currently paid deductible expires, then your previous employer removes you from the company’s plan.
There are different ways to shop for low-cost health insurance. Like Medicaid, some plans are free, while some require you to pay a small amount for your monthly premium. So if you are looking for how to shop for low-cost health insurance, you can select one of the above-listed methods and make sure you are eligible to receive it.