Finding cheap affordable health insurance can be a daunting task. Add being laid off to your baskets of worries and your stress levels can rise to new mental breakdown inducing heights. Why’s that? Well, because now you’re no longer covered by your former employer’s group plan. And with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you now face the distinct possibility of being forced to pay a penalty tax if you can afford health insurance but choose not to buy it, unless of course you meet certain criteria to be exempted from the tax. So if you ever find yourself grasping at straws trying to find a plan that works for you, here are a few options that just might be on your wavelength.
Ask Mommy and Daddy to Add You to Their Plan
Depending on your view, if you’re fortunate enough to be under the age of 26 the ACA permits you to be added to your parents’ health insurance plan. Now I know this may not apply to some of you because your relationship with your parents is a bit strained at the moment, but for those of you who it does apply to it’s worth looking into. And don’t worry, if you’re married or financially independent of your parents this option is still available to you. It might even be the least expensive option. Just make sure your parents’ plan offers in-network care providers where you live or your savings might not be so grand.
You May Be Eligible for Special Programs
There are special, subsidized, budget friendly healthcare programs out there that you just might qualify for. Medicaid, CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), and Medicare are just a few of those programs.
If you’ve been anywhere near a television set in the last decade or so chances are you’re well acquainted with the name Medicare. But this program is not for everyone, you only eligible for Medicare if you’re 65 years or older or if you’re receiving social security social benefits. Medicaid may be less popular but with the changes that have been made to the program with the passage of the ACA more people can now access it. I bet you probably didn’t know that. So if you’re living on a very low income and have difficulty making ends meet, then Medicaid is an option. However, living beneath the poverty line isn’t the only qualifying factor for this program. If you happen to be living above the poverty line there are many circumstances, such as a disability, that would allow you to access Medicaid. The program varies from state to state so check with your state’s health department to see if you qualify. But what if you don’t qualify for Medicaid but you need insurance coverage for your children? That’s what CHIP is designed for. Don’t have enough cash to buy health insurance but you have a family to take care of? CHIP can provide coverage for your children and in some instances it may even cover you and your spouse.
COBRA’s Got You Covered
Picture this, you’ve just been laid off and you’re currently undergoing medical treatment. Treatments have stopped but must be resumed quickly. What next? Well, as generic as this may sound the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) has got your back. That is if you were previously covered under you previous employer’s insurance plan. And guess what, that coverage extends to up to 18 months. But be warned COBRA can be a bit pricey compared to other options with an average cost of $490 per month. However, it might be in your best interest to access it if you must retain access to providers you may not have access to under other plans.
Short Term Plans
Short term plans are great are if you need to maintain coverage for your family while searching for another provider. They’re definitely on the cheap side. The average monthly cost for a family short-term plan purchased through eHealth back in 2014 was $262. But they do have a downside. You may face discrimination if you have an existing condition since, with these plans, you’re not protected by the ACA , which will make securing health insurance almost impossible. Your coverage will be lacklustre, and in some instances, you won’t even be covered for flu shots or physicals. A high deductible will mean you’ll pay more out of pocket expenses, and there’s the ironic fact that you may still be forced to pay the same tax penalties as someone who has no health insurance.
They’re Not Called High Deductible Plans For No Reason
As the name implies these plans come with hefty deductibles, as much as $6,850 in 2016, but you’ll pay lower premiums each month. In the long run you’ll probably pay less if it’s unlikely that you will need to have frequent visits to your doctor i.e. if you’re young and healthy. You might also want to consider getting a health savings account (HSA) along with your high deductible plan. You can put money into this account that’s completely tax free, which can go a long way towards helping paying for your health insurance. And the best thing is, unlike other plans, your savings are carried over into the following year.