Having trouble finding affordable health insurance? You may want to consider looking into the coverage of family members that you may be living with or other loved ones. You may be able to take advantage of their plan, or they may have tips and tricks to help you find your own plan.
You may be eligible for a health plan your spouse or partner has through their employer. Their plan may cover you, or it may be very simple to join or get added on.
Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss. It is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent or uncertain loss. An entity which provides insurance is known as an insurer, insurance company, insurance carrier or underwriter. A person, who buys insurance policies from an insurer, is known as an insured or policyholder.
The health insurance system can appear confusing even for people who have always had coverage. Learn about how ACA, or Obamacare has changed the rules, what types of plans are available to you, and which is likely to be the best option for your situation.
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1. Check Out Your Family Members Plans
With the ACA, many Americans have access to health insurance for their families. If you and your family members are eligible for an employer’s plan, learn about the plans that offer the best coverage for your family’s specific needs.
Young adults typically have lots of options when it comes to health insurance. Students and other younger folk might like to check whether they can be added to their parents’ current policy, or whether their school offers a student insurance plan. Under the ACA, most health plans are required to cover the policy holder’s children, up to the age of 26.
Also, as a recent graduate, you might have to take an insurance plan that your employer offers. Alternatively, you could opt out of any corporate plan and shop for individual health coverage from private insurers or from the federal marketplace.
2. Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
If you happen to be undergoing treatments when you lose your job, COBRA coverage can help you keep on with the treatments without a break.
It provides you with coverage under your former employer’s health plan for a limited amount of time. You’ll usually need to pay the full premium—which might be more than what you were paying before—and it might not cover as much as your initial health plan did, but it still has potential benefits.You can find a plan that suits your needs and budget by exploring other options.
If you lose health coverage through your workplace, you may be able to stay on your employer’s plan for a limited period of time through COBRA. Check with your benefits administrator to see if this is an option for you.
If you have other health insurance options, such as Medicare or Medicaid, you will not be able to keep COBRA coverage, but you can enroll again at a later point if you lose your new coverage. This might happen if your new job’s benefits don’t start right away or if you leave that job and do not get another one with health insurance benefits.
Medicare is a health plan run by the federal government. You can qualify if you are 65 years or older, if you are under age 65 and receive Social Security Administration (SSA). Each state has its own rules about eligibility and how to apply.
Medicare and Medicaid are both offered by the government, but run by the state and differ in terms of eligibility and what’s covered. Medicare is a federal insurance plan for people 65 years of age or older and for those under age 65 who have a disability.
Medicaid on the other hand, is a publicly funded program that helps the medically challenged pay for medical services. It covers more than 60 million people, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and newly implemented guidelines allow more people than ever to qualify.
Depending on where you live and your position within society, you may or may not be eligible for Medicaid health insurance.
Does the state you live in offer worker’s compensation benefits? If so, you may be eligible for great healthcare options. Check your state’s worker’s compensation website to find out more.
State workers’ compensation is designed to protect you from the financial impact of a work-related injury or illness that leaves you unable to work. Depending on your state’s program, eligible injured workers may receive weekly cash benefits, medical care and vocational rehabilitation.
6. Health Insurance Marketplace
Millions of Americans have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — a number that is growing every day.
The ACA has led to significant improvements in access to care; rates of uninsurance dropped by more than 50% from 2010-2016.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all health plans to cover the same set of benefits that generally fall into 10 broad categories. Plans must cover these essential health benefits whether or not they are sold in the exchange or outside the exchange.
When you purchase a health insurance plan through the Marketplace, your policy can’t turn you down based on a pre-existing condition. All health insurance plans must cover treatment of pre-existing conditions.
7. High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs)
If you’re shopping for health coverage, you’ll find short-term health insurance and high deductible health plans (HDHPs), two types of coverage that can be paired with a health savings account (HSA).
HDHPs are often more affordable than traditional plans but come with higher deductibles. That’s why they’re often paired with an HSA to help pay for any expenses that meet the deductible.
Short-term health insurance, on the other hand, typically covers less than a marketplace plan but is available fast and can help you avoid gaps in coverage while searching for a plan option.”
HDHPs are a good option if you’re looking for lower premiums and you want to set aside funds in case of unexpected health expenses. However, you might need to spend a lot out of pocket in order to meet your deductible before the plan helps with additional funds.
This plan may also be a good option for those who are planning for retirement. If you are nearing retirement and have been laid off or are looking to change employers, short term health insurance can help you stay covered during this period of transition.
8. Group Insurance from Organization Memberships
Many organizations provide health insurance group plans. If you belong to any kind of membership organization, it’s worth asking whether it has a health insurance plan. Some common sources include alumni groups, professional organizations, business bureaus, or independent worker associations.
Many of these groups help provide reduced health insurance premiums or other healthcare perks for their members. If you belong to one of these groups, it’s worth looking into what it offers as an alternative to employer-sponsored group health insurance.
As the name suggests, group insurance is a form of health insurance (often provided by an employer or other membership plan) in which a single policy covers an entire group rather than one individual. The insured individuals share the cost of the premiums and, in some cases, may also share copayments or deductibles.
Under this arrangement, all members of the group get access to the same insurance policy.Unless you enroll during a special enrollment period, the only way to add coverage through the Marketplace outside Open Enrollment is with a qualifying life event. A qualifying life event is a change in your life that can make you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to enroll in health coverage.
9. Group Health Expenses Sharing Plan
With health costs skyrocketing, wouldn’t it be nice to get a little help from your neighbors?
That’s where Medical Cost Share plans come in. These plans allow individuals and families to pay hospital and medical bills with money from their own community, rather than an insurance company.
Members of these groups pool money together (called sharing) so that whenever a bill needs to be paid, there’s money in the communal kitty to cover your portion of the cost. By joining one of these plans, you’re essentially starting a health insurance program with your neighbors. When someone falls ill, the rest of the group will help take care of that person’s medical costs.
A group health expenses sharing plan consists of a group of people who pool their money into one fund to pay each other’s healthcare costs. It works a bit like their own insurance company. Members’ pooled funds are invested and, for the most part, reserved to pay for major medical costs. These plans are not often used for more basic health costs like standard checkups or minor procedures.
Group health expense sharing plans aren’t insurance plans, so they’re not regulated in the same way as insurance. Be sure to look into the details and rules of any of these plans before you join one.
In the United States, group health expense sharing plans are basically an alternative to health insurance. This type of plan works a lot like insurance; members pay into a fund that’s used to cover healthcare costs incurred by other members.
10. Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSMs)
A Health Care Sharing ministry (HCSM) can play a vital role in meeting your individual health care costs. HCSMs are not considered insurance, and are not subject to the same federal regulations as insurance, such as HIPAA and PPACA. Therefore, premium and coverage rates may vary significantly from plan to plan.
There are a number of healthcare sharing ministries available, but one of the most popular is Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM). It’s actually the largest of this type in America, and has been serving people since 1981.
Some faith-based health insurance plans offer an alternative to standard insurance. These plans are very similar in nature, but they exclude coverage for things like birth control, sterilization, and some reproductive care.
11. Health Insurance Discount Cards
With health insurance discount cards, you receive discounts on medical expenses in exchange for a monthly or yearly membership fee. A health insurance discount plan is not actual insurance, so it does not cover the cost of a healthcare service. Instead, you receive a reduced rate for the care that you need.
For example, a medical discount plan might receive discounts from cardholders and offer you a lower price at a participating pharmacy. Have a copayment or deductible that must be paid to get the insurance benefits, but this may be lower than the actual cost of the drug without your card.
When you use your discount card at a participating physician, hospital, lab or other medical source, a reduced rate will automatically be applied to all eligible services.
The Bottom Line
Healthcare can be expensive, but healthcare insurance can help you to manage those costs. In some countries the government decides which plan will have the greatest coverage for the most affordable price.
In others, you have the freedom of choice. To find the plan that’s right for you, take your time and consider all available options from multiple providers.