Finding good-value, low-cost health insurance is possible, but you have to do your homework. Maybe you’re unemployed, self-employed, or employed but under-insured for your needs. Let’s look at some of the options to consider.
Affordable Care Act Marketplace
If you qualify for subsidy assistance, the Marketplace or Exchange might be a good solution for you. To qualify for tax credit subsidies through ACA, you are required to be a citizen or legal resident, must buy your plan through a healthcare Exchange, whether it’s your state’s or the national website, and must have income that falls between specific parameters. Go to the appropriate Exchange website to see if you are eligible. National ACA can be found at HealthCare.gov. To find out if your state has its own Marketplace, see the Einsurance Reference Guide.
If the ACA enrollment period is over, you might qualify for the Special Enrollment Period. See this Einsurance article for more information.
Outside the ACA Marketplace
If you don’t qualify for subsidies, you might be able to find more affordable coverage outside the Marketplace. The key is to shop around. Avenues to explore include:
- Insurance Agents – If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the whole process and want assistance from a professional, going through an agent might be a good option. You can seek the assistance of an agent who offers products through one particular company, or an independent agent who can help you compare policies from different insurance providers.
- Insurance Companies – Insurance providers typically let you compare their optional plan details and apply online. You’ll have to go to a number of websites to decide which company and policy you want to go with, but if you already know which insurer you want to use just go to the appropriate website.
- Online Quote Comparison Market – Many find this option a great way to save time. Like independent agents, online insurance finders provide tools to help you get quotes from a variety of companies so you can compare your options. This is a good way to start your search. Einsurance will help you get quotes online and lets you speak to an insurance specialist.
If you are young and very healthy you might consider catastrophic health insurance. These high-deductible plans come with lower monthly premiums. They typically cover a limited number of doctor visits per year, prescriptions and some other benefits, but you’ll have to pay out of pocket beyond that until you have paid your deductible, which is usually very high. Even if purchasing a catastrophic policy through the Marketplace, these kinds of plans do not qualify for subsidies.
Your Parents’ Health Insurance
If you’re under 26, your cheapest option might be to stay on your parents’ health insurance plan. Keep in mind that if their plan does not have any in-network health care providers in your area, you’ll have to pay more for care as out-of-network costs are more expensive.
Short-term, temporary health coverage can help if you are between jobs or missed open enrollment for the ACA. It’s cheap, but also very limited in what it covers. These kinds of plans don’t have to follow ACA mandates and are bare-bones. Insurance companies are not required to accept you if you have pre-existing health conditions, and they don’t have to cover preventive care. Short-term plans include a lifetime cap on coverage, so if you become seriously ill you’ll have to pay for your care beyond that cap.
Health Savings Account
If you have a high-deductible plan that requires you to pay out-of-pocket for care expenses, a health savings account, or HSA, can help. HSAs are generally considered good as supplements to other forms of coverage. Instead of paying high premiums, for example, you can use an HSA to set money aside for when you need it. This money is tax-free and not considered part of your income. Any money you use from your HSA to pay care expenses isn’t taxable and what you put aside and don’t use rolls over to the next year.
Medicare Savings Programs
If you’re 65 or older and your annual income falls below a certain level, Medicare savings programs can help you with your medical. These plans help pay premiums for hospital care (Part A) and health care costs (Part B). Savings programs can also provide assistance with deductibles, copays and coinsurance costs. Learn more about Medicare on Einsurance.com and medicare.gov.
For those who do not qualify for subsidies through the ACA, getting a health care plan outside a state or federal health exchange might save you money. Shop around before making your final decision. To get started, use our quote tool and compare your options.