Affordable Health Insurance

It may seem impossible to find affordable health insurance with rising health care costs. However, there are multiple options for Americans seeking less expensive coverage. The availability of affordable plans does depend on where applicants live, their medical needs and access to certain care facilities.

When purchasing new insurance, prospective policyholders must be aware of open enrollment dates. These dates are usually at the beginning of the calendar year. Most residents will not be able to enroll in a health care plan past the enrollment period unless they qualify for an exemption.

Residents who lose their job or are hired at a new place of employment that has employer-sponsored health coverage are usually eligible for an enrollment period exemption. Because finding an affordable health insurance plan can be overwhelming, we have provided a list of affordable options for health care.  

Current ACA Regulations

Before selecting a healthcare plan, residents should look over the regulations of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The policies in this act outline the basic requirements the health insurers must comply with. For instance, insurance companies are not permitted to discriminate against applicants based on pre-existing conditions.

In addition, insurance companies are not permitted to impose lifetime limits on necessary medical services and must allow a minimum amount of preventative care visits.

Furthermore, financial penalties have been lifted off of residents who choose to forego health insurance. However, those who choose not to have insurance will still experience a tax penalty. This penalty is approximately 2.5 percent of a resident’s income or $695 per household member, whichever is higher.

Thus, it is often more financially beneficial to obtain some type of health insurance plan instead of opting out.

Employer-Sponsored Insurance and COBRA

Employer-subsidized insurance is often the most affordable option for many insurance policyholders as a large portion of the plan is paid for by the employer. However, not all employers are required or able to offer health insurance.

In this case, employees must seek out other options such as group health insurance. In addition, many companies are able to offer family health insurance so that an enrollee’s entire household can be covered.

Additionally, employees at certain companies can maintain their coverage even after they lose their jobs through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Under this act, policyholders are able to stay under their employer’s health insurance for up to 18 months after separating from the company. However, these COBRA programs can be expensive as they are not subsidized by the employer.

State Health Insurance Marketplace

Under ACA regulation, each U.S. state is required to either supply an online state health care marketplace for residents or offer the federal marketplace as an option for choosing a health care plan.

Through these marketplaces, residents can search for and find health coverage options in their area. All plans found in the marketplace meet ACA standards for basic coverage.

Residents can find many insurers who offer Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) and Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs) plans.

Enrollees can also find plans with higher out-of-pocket costs like Point-of-Service (POS) Plans, High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) and Fee for Service (FFS) Plans. However, prospective policyholders can filter their search results so to view insurers that are within their budgets and meet their medical needs.

Insurance Aggregators

It may be a good idea to conduct an online search to check if there are any deals on insurance plans before deciding on a plan in the health marketplace. This is because some insurers will offer plans that are not listed in the marketplace.

To effectively conduct a search for these deals, residents can first check a specific insurer’s official website and look through its available plans. Another option is to visit a third-party site that allows visitors to search through and compare a variety of insurers and their available plans. These types of sites can be helpful for finding good deals that are not advertised.

Health Insurance Agents

Residents who are unsure of how or where to begin their search for affordable health care may want to consider hiring an insurance agent or broker to assist them. This can be an especially beneficial option for those who have specific medical needs.

Prospective policyholders can find two different types of insurance brokers. One type works with a particular insurance provider while the other works independently and has access to multiple insurers. Residents who do not yet know which health insurer they want to work with should opt for an independent agent. On the other hand, a broker who works for a specific insurer can be helpful to those who are unsure of which plan they want to purchase.

Government-Subsidized Health Insurance

Certain residents are eligible for federal health coverage. The largest programs include the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare and Medicaid. Each aims to provide coverage to specific at-risk residents.

For instance, Medicare is directed at citizens who are 65 years of age and older. The purpose of Medicaid is to provide low-cost health services to low-income households. Eligibility for this program is largely based on income and medical needs. Last, CHIP provides health coverage to children whose parents or guardians would otherwise not have insurance.

Short-term Insurance Plans

Some residents may not be able to afford or obtain insurance through their employer or either the private or public health insurance marketplace. However, going without any insurance at all is not beneficial and can be risky. Thus, residents can look into alternative options for coverage.

Short-term health insurance plans can be ideal for those who are strapped for cash. These plans often have much lower costs than traditional insurance options. The primary reason for this is because these plans typically do not adhere to ACA policies and guidelines. There are a number of short-term plans available in different areas throughout the country. Interested residents can conduct an online search or speak with an insurance broker to find these plans.