How to Find Affordable Health Insurance
Agnus Smith | Published: June 14, 2018
Unless you want to pay a hefty fine on your taxes, having health insurance if a necessity. However, finding an affordable health insurance policy can be difficult. To cut down on your monthly premiums and find cheap health insurance, follow these six tips.
1. Explore Your Options
Although they tend to be more cost-efficient and easier to use, you don’t have to use the insurance options provided by the ACA. In fact, there are plenty of options in hopes of finding affordable health insurance providers. Below are a few additional options to check out and obtain health insurance quotes before from deciding on a single health insurance plan to go with:
Purchase a Plan Directly Through Insurance Companies
Compared to state exchanges, health insurance companies actually have a better range of healthcare options available on their websites. Plus, they will often allow you to compare plans, view more detailed information about each one, and apply for it online. However, one disadvantage is that you won’t be able to compare against other providers, which may cause you to pay more for a plan.
If you need assistance choosing which plan to go with, we highly suggest purchasing a plan through an agent for expert advice. There are two main types of insurance agent you’ll be dealing with, a captive agent who offer policies through a single company and independent agents who can help you choose which low-cost health insurance policy to go with from a number of providers. If you’re looking to save as much as possible, we recommend dealing with an independent agent who can help you compare more options than a captive agent.
Online health insurance companies, such First Quote Health, can be an excellent resource for shopping around for affordable health insurance plans. All you have to do is enter your zip code to start comparing and purchasing health insurance quotes that are actually in your area.
Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) are all special programs that offer low-cost, federally issued health care plans for those who qualify for them.
Medicaid is generally issued to families with low income and Medicare is the most common type of health care program that is issued to people who are over 65 years of age. However, CHIP is primarily issued to children and families who can’t qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford to purchase any other type of insurance.
To see if you qualify for these programs, apply via your state’s health insurance exchange. Fortunately, you can apply anytime of the year to see if you’re eligible.
3. Understanding Whether or Not You Should be on COBRA
COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act, allows you to remain on your employer’s low-cost health insurance policy for up to 18 months in case you are laid off. This way, you can still have cheap health insurance coverage even when you’re unemployed. However, getting COBRA can be risky since you need to weigh in a variety of factors, such as remaining accessible to specific providers and knowing what kind of medical expenses you will need to spend in the future.
4. Stay on Your Parents’ Plan
If you are under the age of 26, you are allowed to stay on your parent's affordable health insurance plan, according to the ACA. This option is available even if you are financially independent or married. For young people, this is likely cheaper than other health insurance quotes, even if your parents ask you to contribute financially to your monthly premium.
For those who do not intend on using their insurance very often, you can save a lot of money every month by selecting a high-deductible or catastrophic plan. These plans have lower monthly premiums than other cheap health insurance plans. If you are under 30, you are eligible to obtain a catastrophic plan under the ACA. If you are over 30, you may qualify for a hardship exemption if you have experienced serious financial setbacks like eviction, bankruptcy, and homelessness.
A catastrophic plan offers three primary care visits per year plus prescription coverage and other important features. Beyond this care, however, you will be required to pay out of pocket until you reach your deductible. For this reason, this type of plan is only recommended for those who are young and in excellent health.
6. Be Careful with Short-Term Plans
If you are looking for cheap health insurance, short-term/temporary plans are the most affordable option. This type of plan is only available for people shopping outside of the open enrollment period who do not have a qualifying event that makes them eligible for special enrollment.
Though a short-term plan can be a good option for some people, it is not without its disadvantages. For example, the protections offered under the ACA do not apply to these plans. So, if you have a pre-existing condition, you may not be able to gain this coverage and if you fall seriously ill, you may not be able to renew your plan. Additionally, these plans do not meet the requirements under the ACA. This means you will be faced with the same tax fines as you would if you did not have any coverage. These plans also come with lifetime care caps and they do not cover preventative care.
Although a short-term plan may be the cheapest available option, it comes with a lot of drawbacks. Typically this sort of insurance plan should only be used as a last resort to cover your health if you are between jobs. Otherwise, there are probably better options out there.