Got affordable health insurance?
In an era of skyrocketing healthcare costs, it might seem that finding affordable health insurance in 2021 is about as likely as the United States Congress agreeing on a bipartisan budget. However, you have plenty of options out there that takes care of your healthcare needs, while not busting the family budget.
Can I Find Affordable Health Insurance?
The answer is an emphatic yes, but you have to know where to look. The best strategy is to comparison shop for health insurance policies like you do for any commodity. Your first stop is Medicaid coverage, which should be the most affordable health insurance plan available on the market. If you do not qualify for Medicaid, use the subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to reduce the cost of health insurance.
When Can I Enroll in an Affordable Health Insurance Plan under the ACA?
As mandated by the ACA, the open enrollment period for your state or the federal health insurance marketplace is between November 1 and December 15. If you require coverage outside of the open enrollment period, you might be eligible for the special enrollment period (SEP). The qualifications for SEP coverage include losing a job and a change in your marital status.
How Do I Find the Most Affordable Health Insurance Company?
Insurance companies charge different premiums for policyholders that live in different states. For example, a health insurance policy purchased in New York should cost more than a health insurance policy taken out in Nebraska. Researching different insurance companies is as easy as going online and comparing deductibles, monthly premiums, and out-of-pocket maximum expenses.
What is Medicaid?
For individuals that qualify, Medicaid represents the most affordable health insurance option. Your household income must be lower than at least 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Once a program exclusively for children, the ACA expanded the program to give states the flexibility to cover adults as well. As of 2021, most states have decided to expand Medicaid coverage to adults.
What is the Most Affordable Health Insurance for Individuals?
If you do not qualify for Medicaid, the next most affordable health insurance policy that includes full medical benefits is coverage for individuals. You purchase an individual plan through your state’s health insurance marketplace or through a broker. Full benefits mean health insurance policies must cover what the federal government defines as the 10 essential healthcare benefits.
- Emergency care
- Outpatient care
- Pediatric care
- Laboratory services
- Rehabilitation devices and services
- Preventive care
- Maternity care
- Mental health
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Is Short-Term Health Insurance Affordable?
Yes, short-term health insurance is affordable. It is even less expensive than marketplace healthcare plans. Short-term plans charge low premiums, but one downside is the plans last for only a few months, possibly up to a maximum of one year. Another disadvantage of short-term coverage is the policies typically do not cover the same essential health benefits that state marketplace policies cover.
Is There Affordable Health Insurance for Students?
College students frequently have more affordable health care options. Many schools of higher learning provide free health insurance by starting a school-sponsored plan. College health insurance policies offer medical coverage for most campus healthcare services, but you might lose your eligibility if you become a part-time student or transfer to another college or university.
Another health insurance option for college students is called a student health plan. This type of health insurance coverage is for full-time students that are between 17 and 29 years old. Most college student-targeted plans are managed by large health insurance companies that charge either an annual or a semiannual premium. A student health plan makes sense if there is the chance that you might become a part-time student or transfer to another school.
What is Affordable Health Insurance?
The most affordable health insurance policy might not be the policy that charges the lowest premium. Depending on your healthcare needs, the most affordable health insurance policy can be one that provides you with the coverage you need at the most affordable rate. For most policyholders, a health insurance policy that covers basic medical needs is enough coverage.
The Bottom Line
Buying the most affordable health insurance policy requires you to conduct extensive research. Online sources of information coupled with networking with friends and family members should help you find a policy that covers your healthcare needs, while keeping your expenses in line with the monthly budget. Remember government laws that pertain to healthcare coverage change often, sometimes more than one time a year. Make sure to stay on top of the latest legislation when it involves Medicaid and the ACA.
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