The statistics are startling when it comes to the amount of uninsured Americans. So what do you do if you don’t have a job and can’t get affordable health insurance – either individually or for your family? Or if you have a job but still cannot afford the health insurance offered by an employer? There are options for finding more affordable health insurance.
There are low cost health insurance options out there that, in fact, many Americans have already implemented and are beating the rising battle against being uninsured.
Top 10 Ways to Find Affordable Health Insurance
A good place to start looking for affordable health insurance is with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). If you are not employed you may be eligible to continue your previous employers’ health insurance through COBRA. This also applies to children going off to college… you may be able to continue on your parent’s insurance coverage through COBRA. This is a good option for people who may have lost their job and are still undergoing medical treatments. WARNING! This will not be an affordable health insurance option. The premiums will be much higher. It is best to gather all your available health insurance options first and then pick the best health insurance plan for you.
2. Worker’s Compensation Insurance
Sometimes, you don’t need to look far for affordable health insurance. Many people don’t realize that they may be covered under their state’s Workers’ Compensation program. If you are being treated for any work related injury, your employer must offer you treatment under their Workers’ Compensation program.
Medicaid is often overlooked as an affordable health insurance option. Some think if have a job, they won’t qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid will pay health care expenses for low-income families and individuals. Each state sets the eligibility requirements. If you are working and still don’t have enough to buy affordable health insurance, it doesn’t cost you to see if you or your children qualify for Medicaid, so it is always best to check Medicaid first before moving on to the next options. And, there is good news about Medicaid… more states are adding health care benefits for low-income families so if you don’t qualify now, keep informed of your state’s Medicaid and health insurance laws because you may qualify in the future.
Most people know if they qualify for Medicare or not, but I need to add it to the list just to make sure it is not overlooked as an affordable health insurance choice. Medicare is provided by the government and administered by the Social Security Administration. If you are sixty-five years old or older you would qualify for Medicare. You may also qualify if you are getting Social Security disability benefits.
5. State High Risk Health Insurance Pool
If you are turned down by individual health insurance companies because of pre-existing conditions, your state may have a high risk health insurance pool you can obtain health insurance from. It may not be an affordable health insurance choice, but it may be the only individual or family health insurance option available to you that will pay for your pre-existing conditions if you don’t qualify for COBRA (see #1 of this list).
6. Individual and Family Health Insurance
This affordable health insurance option is fairly simple: you just go to an insurance company and buy individual or family health insurance the same way you would by home or auto insurance. These plans work similar to what an employer would offer their employees but would be more expensive since you don’t get the cheaper group rate and you would not have an employer contributing to some of the costs. Another drawback of individual and family health insurance plans is that there is usually a pre-existing conditions clause (they may not cover pre-existing conditions or may not cover them until after a certain period of time) and a medical exam.
7. High Deductible Health Plan
High deductible health plans are becoming a popular affordable health insurance option. Say someone did decide to cover their basic doctor’s visits and prescriptions out-of-pocket, but wanted the assurance of knowing that if they did need major medical care, such as for a surgery or disease, that they were covered. A high deductible health plan would do just that. It is designed to only “kick-in” after the out-of-pocket expenses (the doctor’s visits, prescriptions, ect.) reach the deductible, which is higher than a normal insurance plan. Using a health insurance plan such as this has a lower premium because the deductible is higher.
8. Short Term Health Insurance Coverage
This is a great affordable health insurance option for someone in-between jobs or who knows they will be starting a job soon. Short-term health insurance coverage works the same as an individual health insurance policy (see #6 above), but you will only be covered for a specific amount of time which would keep your premiums down. This is also a good option for someone who needs time to examine their individual and family health insurance choices but still would like to be covered quickly to avoid any coverage gaps.
9. Group Insurance from Organization Memberships
This is often an overlooked source of affordable or low cost health insurance. Some people are members of specific organizations that offer health insurance coverage. Although these organizations often do not help pay the health insurance premiums like an employer would, the rates would be lower because of the group discount. So, figure out what organizations you are a member of and see if they offer group health insurance. You could also research organizations that provide group health insurance and join those groups, or even ask current organizations you are a member with to offer group health insurance. They may just not realize they could offer a plan to their members.
10. Group Health Expenses Sharing Plan
This is not insurance but works similar to it and can, in some cases, be just as effective as an affordable health insurance plan. This is when a group of people pool their money together and pay each others’ health expenses… they pretty much become their own insurance company. The contributions are pooled together and usually invested in order to accrue interest on the pooled funds. It works well when there are a lot of people who contribute and everyone is only using the money for major medical expenses. There are religious groups that use this model successfully. If you are interested in this option make sure you choose a group that has been around for a long time and has a good track record.
11. Discount Medical Cards
Again, this is also not an insurance plan but can be a good source for getting low cost health services. There are many companies who offer affordable health insurance discount cards and they work like this: You pay a small monthly fee for a membership card and when you go to the doctor or hospital you will get a discounted rate on your services. These are not for everyone and one thing you have to remember is that if you had a catastrophic health crisis the discount on these cards is not a lot, so you would still have an enormous amount of bills left to pay.