It’s no secret that the cost of health care in the United States is astronomical, and unfortunately, the cost seems to be rising at a rapid rate. Fortunately, however, health insurance makes health care more affordable; or does it?
Not only does the cost of health care (even if it’s not the best quality) rising, but so does health insurance. The very purpose of insurance is to make getting the essential services you need to maintain your overall health and well-being more affordable. But insurance is a business, and just like any business, companies that issue policies want to make as much profit as they can. Sadly, the way they do that is by charging those that they insure an arm and a leg for coverage.
Because health insurance is so expensive, far too many Americans go without it. However, being uninsured isn’t the best way to go about cutting your expenses. Even if you’re a generally healthy person, you never know when an emergency is going to arise. What happens if you’re ever involved in a car accident or you cut your finger while dicing up ingredients for dinner? If you aren’t insured, a trip to the ER could end up costing you upwards of $1,500; and that’s just for an assessment, some bandages, and maybe a few stitches. If you end up needing more extensive medical care – a surgical procedure, for example – the total bill could cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
Accidents aren’t the only thing that could end up costing you a boat load of money if you aren’t insured. Despite the fact that you’ve had a pretty clean bill of health thus far, there’s no telling if you’ll suddenly develop a serious condition; even people who are seemingly healthy can develop chronic illnesses, like diabetes, or can fall victim to a life-threatening condition, like a heart attack or stroke. If you were ever to be affected by a more serious malady and you aren’t insured, the impact could affect more than your health; it could be financially devastating.
When you’re injured or ill, you’ve got enough to worry about without having to throw hefty medical bills and financial hardship into the mix. While the cost of health insurance is definitely a lot less than the price of medical care if you aren’t covered, it can still be pretty steep. If you’re like millions of other Americans who are living paycheck-to-paycheck and you’re struggling to make ends meet, stretching your already too thin budget even further so that you can pay for health insurance might seem like a virtually impossible feat. But going without health insurance so you can try to reign in your expenses definitely isn’t the smartest idea because you’ll likely end up paying a lot more than you saved in the end.
Budget-Friendly Health Insurance Options
With all that being said, you’re still in a financial crunch. So, how can you make sure you have the coverage you need for medical care without spending a fortune on your health insurance? Here’s a look at some cost-effective ways to you can get yourself insured.
The Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) has gotten a lot of flack; mostly because if you weren’t insured, you were hit with a penalty. However, that penalty no longer exists; but, the ACA still does, and so does its premium tax credit subsidy.
This subsidy is a tax credit that’s taken ahead of time to help reduce the amount you have to pay for monthly premiums. In order to take advantage of the subsidy, you have to purchase a health insurance policy through the Health Insurance Marketplace in your state. Once you purchase a plan, you will then have to apply for the tax credit subsidy. The amount you entered as your estimated household income when you filled out your health insurance application will determine if you qualify for the subsidy; typically, you have to fall within at least 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
If you do qualify, you can arrange to have your tax credit sent to your insurer, and the amount will be put directly toward your insurance premium. Depending on the amount you receive, you may not have to pay anything for your health insurance; but, even if you do have to pay something, you’ll still a reduced amount if you are eligible for the ACA’s subsidy.
Look into Medicaid
Medicaid is another cost-effective way to get the health insurance you need. This government-sponsored plan provides health insurance for low-income individuals. You do have to qualify, but if you do, you’ll have to pay very little for your insurance; if you have to pay anything at all. Usually, there aren’t any monthly premiums, and there aren’t any deductibles or co-pays.
In order to qualify, you do have to meet the income requirements. The income requirements vary from state to state; however, in many areas, if the amount you make 138 percent or less than the federal poverty level, you will qualify. Depending on the state you live in, you may have to meet other qualifications; for example, you might have to meet the income guidelines, and it may also be a requirement that you are a “medically vulnerable”; elderly, disabled, or pregnant, for example.
Team Up with Your Spouse
If you are married (or depending on where you live, if you are in a domestic partnership) and your spouse (or significant other) has employer-sponsored health insurance, consider signing up under his or her plan.
Most employers do extend the coverage they offer to the families of their employees. By enrolling under your spouse’s plan, you might be able to save more money than you would if you were to purchase health insurance on your own. If you have children, you can also sign them up under your spouse’s employer-sponsored plan.
Summing It Up
No matter how think your budget is stretched, going without health insurance isn’t an option. There are ways you can get the coverage you need without breaking the bank. If you need help finding cost-effective health insurance, speak to a reputable agent that specializes in health insurance.