How to Find Low-Cost Health Insurance
Finding Affordable Coverage With No Job or Little Money
For decades Americans had historically high rates of being uninsured. Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance reforms improved access and affordability to many Americans, although the ACA is currently under review, there is not doubt that health care options opened up to many Americans. Since the ACA passed, 16.4 million previously uninsured Americans now are insured. 12.3 million more Americans are now enrolled in Medicaid, and there are various other plans now available like Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
With all of these options and the possibility of premium tax credits, there is a good chance that even if you have little money or have lost your job, there is an option for you.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it was estimated that half of uninsured Americans could have qualified to enroll for health insurance through the ACA marketplace, but did not think they would qualify or have not looked into it, despite what you may think, there are still currently ways to apply for 2017 coverage with a Special Enrollment Period.
When Looking for Affordable Health Care Insurance Know Your Options
We are providing a list of places you can find affordable health insurance options below, but if you are shopping for affordable insurance, you may also want to check our recent article: 10 Ways to Keep Your Health Care and Insurance Affordable, no matter what happens next.
Look For Coverage Through Your Spouse or Domestic Partner - Don't Double Pay For Insurance
Before you start looking for yourself, if you have a partner or spouse, find out about their health insurance coverage first, many health insurance companies and plan sponsors have changed the rules for domestic partner health insurance and you may be eligible.
You may be able to be added very easily. You may also want to check if you qualify to be added to your parents' policy or a student insurance plan. If none of those are possible, here is a list that you can go through to see if you qualify for any of these options.
Finding Low-Cost Health Insurance Tips:
With more options opening up, understanding the differences in types of health insurance policies becomes really important, Make sure you understand the terms of your health insurance so you don't end up spending more money due to higher out of pocket costs, lifetime maximums or through coinsurance and deductibles. Some plans also offer advantages if you are in a network because you may not have to fill in health insurance claims forms, and you will get lower rates. All of these things impact how much money you have to front or be responsible for. The premium should not be your only consideration.
List of 10 Health Insurance Options to Check When You Have No Job or Little Money
Although some of the places to find low-cost health insurance on this list may seem familiar to you, given the high number of Americans who are eligible for affordable health insurance, but are not enrolled in any program, you should read through the full list before making any decisions and investigate all your possibilities.
The ACA eliminated many previous restrictions and raised eligibility for many people who did not have low-cost options before the reforms, this changes how you would look at the options available. Keep in mind that you may now be eligible for something that you didn't think possible before.
Your Options to Find Low-Cost and Affordable Health Insurance Coverage
Affordable health insurance programs include:
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
More People Qualify for Medicaid, Look Into This Health Insurance Option
The Health Insurance Marketplace for Pre-Existing Conditions
Short Term Health Insurance Coverage
Group Insurance from Organization Memberships
Group Health Expenses Sharing Plan
Health Insurance Discount Cards
List of Top 10 Health Insurance Options to Check When You Have No Job or Little Money
1. Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
If you have been laid off or are no longer working but were previously insured on a group health insurance plan with your former employer, you may be eligible to continue your health insurance through COBRA.
Students may also be able to continue on their parent's health insurance thanks to COBRA. This option is particularly appealing when you were undergoing medical treatments with your former health insurance plan, and need to find coverage that will allow you to continue the treatments quickly. These kinds of plans are not necessarily the most affordable, so before you settle on a plan make sure that you check the healthcare marketplace because you may be able to afford another option.
2. Workers Compensation
Your state Workers' Compensation program may be able to offer you some health care solutions if you are being treated for an injury that occurred while you were working. This is definitely something you should look into if this is your situation.
3. Medicaid : More People Now Qualify, Look Into This Health Insurance Option
A lot has changed since the Affordable Care Act, including Medicaid requirements. The number of people qualified to receive Medicaid has increased dramatically, yet the statistics are showing many people are not aware. If you have not looked into this, make sure to find out about changes to Medicaid for your state. Aside from those living below the poverty line, there are also many exceptions allowing for people with income above the poverty line to qualify. Medicaid expansion is different in each of the states, so you should contact your state insurance commissioner to find out if your state participates.
5. Health Insurance Marketplace for Pre-Existing Conditions
Since the ACA, marketplace plans cover treatment for pre-existing medical conditions, according to HealthCareGov.org:
- No insurance plan can reject you, charge you more, or refuse to pay for essential health benefits for pre-existing conditions.
6. Individual and Family Health Insurance
There are many private insurance plans where you can get quotes for individual or family health coverage. Private plans may cost more money, so make sure you check with the marketplace before settling on an independent plan. You can shop for health insurance the same way you would if you're looking for the best home insurance or negotiating for car insurance.
Is a High-Deductible Health Plan a Good Idea?
Getting a high deductible "emergency" policy is a better way to maintain a low-cost health insurance plan and keeping a Health Savings Account for smaller health issues will probably save you money in the long run.
Short-term health insurance coverage is available to individuals and their families and makes for a good family health insurance choice if you need to be covered quickly to avoid health insurance coverage gaps while you search for another option.
Many organizations provide extra advantages to their members by providing health insurance group plans. If you belong to any kind of membership organization, it is worth asking them if they have a health insurance plan. Some common groups may be alumni groups or professional organizations. These groups help provide reduced health insurance premiums for their members. Some business bureaus or independent worker associations may also offer these kinds of plans, so it is worth looking into this as an alternative to an employer-sponsored group health insurance. More »
9. Group Health Expenses Sharing Plan / Health Care Sharing Ministry (HCSM)
A health expenses sharing plan is when a group of people pool their money together and pay each others' healthcare costs operating a bit like their own insurance company. group health expense sharing plans are not insurance plans, so they are not regulated in the same way as insurance, so it is very important to look into the history of any of these plans before you join them. Contributions by members are pooled and invested and usually are reserved to pay major medical expenses. These plans are not usually used for basic day to day health costs like checkups or small procedures.
A health care sharing ministry (HCSM) is when a group of people who share similar beliefs create a health expenses sharing plan. An HCSM is a non-profit entity, so again, although it provides an alternative to insurance, it is not health insurance and is not regulated in the same way. These plans include provisions for the beliefs of the group, so if procedures are morally objectionable, they would not be covered under these plans. Two examples are Medi-Share, and Samaritan Ministries. More »
10. Health Insurance Discount Cards
Health insurance discount cards provide low-cost health services in exchange for a membership fee. This provides discounts on medical services but is not insurance. It does not provide any medical reimbursement, it only lowers your costs when you use the services of members participating in the plan.
The Health Care Marketplace Should Be Your First Stop
Remember that Obamacare and the healthcare marketplace opened up a lot of new programs and increased eligibility to many health insurance plans. Right now there are large numbers of Americans that do not realize they are eligible for healthcare, so before you choose any of these alternative options, give the healthcare marketplace a try.