In the health insurance marketplace, there is no such insurance product that is best for everyone, and that suits all. The choice of health plan depends upon several factors and so it varies from person to person. It is not necessarily important that a health plan suiting a person will also be best for another person. Thus, there are many health insurance options in the market from which an individual can find a plan that offers a better value for their money and a better fit for their lifestyle. With the individual mandate no more remaining with the ACA-plans, many people are exploring other health insurance alternatives, as no tax penalty is applicable since 2019 for not having ACA-plans.
Medical Insurance Packages
These are ideal health insurance alternatives for people who are unable to afford ACA-plan or people who need to purchase health plans outside of the open enrollment period. People should remember that these are not qualified health plans under the ACA and they cannot get ACA subsidies with any of these plans. It is important to know that these plans are just alternatives that offer some level of protection to people if they are unable to buy an ACA plan. These plans are less expensive than ACA plans and hence offer lower levels of insurance. Most of the health plans in the Medical insurance package are short-term plans that generally bridge the gap for people who are either waiting for the open enrollment period or are between jobs with employer-sponsored health plans.
Healthcare Sharing Organizations
People having certain beliefs in the U.S. have an option to opt-out from a traditional health plan, as they can participate in healthcare sharing organizations as an alternative to ACA plans. This proves to be a good option for people in good health who match the organizations’ guidelines. These faith-based organizations offer health insurance alternatives through a collectible fund that is a contribution made by all the members of the organization. If any of the members of the organization need healthcare, then these organizations will pay for certain medical procedures. All the members of the organizations are typically required to adhere to the guidelines like pursuing a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle and should be a member of a religious organization. These healthcare alternatives are less expensive compared to traditional health insurance but generally pay for fewer medical expenses. Besides, these technically are not health insurance so these are not regulated by the state insurance department. These organizations are not required to cover every medical cost and are also not eligible for any government subsidies.
Before the Affordable Care Act required minimum essential coverage requirement, many people considered catastrophic policies as an affordable alternative, as this plan is significantly less expensive compared to a major medical health plan. However, people need to know that this plan covers only in case of catastrophic events, and basic preventive medicine is not covered. The plan only covers in case if people have major medical expenses like the cost associated with major surgery. Therefore, catastrophic coverage might be best for people who are in good health and wish to obtain coverage in case of a medical emergency. This is only a limited coverage that individuals purchase for self-insurance for small expenses like check-ups and prescriptions. This plan proves beneficial if a person suffers a serious illness or accident, as this plan prevents them from paying entirely from their pocket for catastrophic medical costs.
Many individuals feel that they need some specific coverage like vision or dental plan instead of comprehensive health insurance coverage. This especially holds for people who are young and in good health, as ancillary plans provide more affordable ACA alternatives for their situation, as these plans are specially designed to cover specific healthcare services. Individuals will be required to choose just one plan like a dental plan as an ACA alternative to cover the service they will need. The cost of the ancillary plan is far lower than the cost of an ACA plan. However, with these plans, people need to understand that they will have to pay out of pocket for medical procedures that are not part of their plan.
Short-term Health Insurance
Short-term health plan is also an ACA alternative for people who need limited coverage for a short period. However, people should keep in mind that short-term health plan will do not provide the same amount of coverage like an ACA plan that offer ten essential benefits. Short-term plans may even exclude pre-existing conditions. Though the short-term plans don’t give much coverage as traditional plans, but that doesn’t mean that it is not a good alternative of ACA-plans.
How to Buy Alternative Health Insurance Plans?
People can purchase qualified health plans only during the annual open enrollment period that runs in most of the states from November 1st to December 15th. Whereas alternative health insurance plans are not restricted to enrollment during the open enrollment period, and people can enroll in these programs during any time of the year. People should remember that if they change their mind and no longer wish to have alternative health plans then they will have to wait until the next open enrollment period to sign up for an ACA-plan. People need to thoroughly explore their health insurance alternatives to purchase the best health plan for themselves and their families. The alternatives health plans do offer flexibility and cost-saving to people while still providing the coverage they need.