If you are not aware of the health insurance secto in the United States, then you are unlikely to find cheap and affordable health plan for yourself and your family. Health insurance is a complex system with multiple entry points. You can potentially receive health insurance from different sources, such as the government, employers, or a private insurance company. Therefore, you are bound to get confused about where you should start shopping for cheap and low-cost health insurance. Below you can explore some options for cheap and affordable health insurance.
Medicaid, a social-welfare program, offers government-based health insurance to people falling in the low-income group. People qualifying for this plan receive free health insurance, as in most of the cases, there are no monthly premiums, and no or minimal cost-sharing in the form of deductibles or copayments. Though in each state this plan works differently but to qualify for this plan you should meet low-income guidelines. You will likely qualify for this plan in most of the states if your income is 138% below the federal poverty level. Some states have stricter eligibility criteria, and in those states, you should meet low-income guidelines, and you should also be a medically vulnerable group member like a blind, an elderly person, disabled, a pregnant woman, or a child.
Immigrants legally residing in the United States for five years or more may qualify for Medicaid, provided they meet eligibility requirements. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for Medicaid, though they may be eligible for limited Medicaid coverage in emergencies. Federal and state taxes pay for the Medicaid expenses, and though it is a government health insurance, the majority of healthcare provided to Medicaid beneficiaries is provided by private healthcare providers. Medicaid beneficiaries are likely to receive healthcare at the same hospital and by the same doctors as the people with private health insurance. You can apply for Medicaid either through the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange or directly through the state’s Medicaid program.
Short-term Health Insurance
Short-term health insurance is a lucrative option for you if you are looking for temporary coverage at a comparatively low price. As of 2018, short-term renewal options can be extended up to 36 months. Though a short-term health plan is a low-cost health insurance option, it is not right for everyone, as it doesn’t meet the ACA’s requirement of providing comprehensive health insurance. Besides, this plan also doesn’t follow all of the Affordable Care Act’s rules. A short-term health plan may place a cap on benefits, thereby limiting your potential losses if you become seriously ill. Short-term health plans do not cover all of the essential health benefits, and you can even be turned down for coverage. This may happen if the insurer feels it is a risk to insure you. However, if you are young and healthy, then this plan can be a surprisingly low-cost health insurance option. Though short-term health insurance is not available at HealthCare.gov, you can buy this plan directly from a health insurance company, your insurance agent, or can even use a private online exchange.
Affordable Care Act Subsidy
Government subsidies are provided by the Affordable Care Act to make health insurance affordable for people with modest incomes. This is an initiative to make buying and using health insurance cheap for people with low incomes. You may qualify for the Affordable Care Act subsidy if you have an income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level. On receiving this subsidy, the government will pay a part of your monthly health insurance premium, and the rest will be paid by you. If your income lies between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty level, you will get government help for paying health insurance, and they will also get additional government help for paying a deductible, copays, and coinsurance while using health insurance. It is known as the cost-sharing reduction subsidy.
These subsidies cannot be used to pay for health insurance obtained through a job or a health plan purchased off the marketplace, as these can only be used to buy Obamacare health insurance sold on the ACA’s health insurance exchanges or government marketplace. If you are legal U.S. residents, then you can apply for the subsidy and enroll for a health plan on the health insurance exchange run by your state or by the federal government. Even legally residing immigrants can apply for these subsidies.
Spouse’s Health Plan
Many employers in the United States offer job-based health insurance to their employees and their spouses, children, and step-children. So, if your spouse has an employer-based health plan, then you may be eligible for the same coverage. You need to sign up for this plan during the initial enrollment period when your spouse first receives a job. On missing this opportunity, you will get another opportunity during every annual enrollment period. However, it is not at all necessary for you to accept your spouse’s employer offer. Employers generally subsidize their employee’s health plans by paying a part of their employee’s monthly premiums. Though, they may not subsidize their spouse or family coverage.
Parent’s Health Plan
If your parent has a job-based health plan, Obamacare, or privately purchased health plan and you are less than 26 years of age, then you are eligible to receive coverage under your parent’s health plan. You will be eligible even if you are not your parent’s tax dependent, married, or living on your own. To be included in your parent’s health plan, you may have to wait until the next open enrollment period. However, in case if you urgently need coverage under your parent’s plan due to sudden loss of your comprehensive coverage, then you can enroll before open enrollment, provided you meet the plan’s requirement for a special enrollment period.