Health care costs in the United States are on the rise. The cost of purchasing health insurance is especially high.
Did you know that the average health care premium is $440 per month? For a family, the monthly premium skyrockets to nearly $2000.
This is just the cost to secure a health insurance card. For many, the insurance company does not make payments until a deductible is reached.
The average family deductible is over $8000. This means that most family health care does not kick in unless a catastrophic event takes place.
The truth is that if you can’t afford health insurance, you are not alone. Read on to learn about low-cost insurance plans. Explore other options for securing medical treatment when your insurance is inadequate.
Do You Need Health Insurance?
Many Americans can’t afford health insurance, but some refuse to carry it for other reasons. They feel young and invincible. These people rarely see a doctor and decide to take the risk of a catastrophic health event occurring.
The vast majority of experts agree that this is a misguided decision. One trip to the emergency room can cripple your personal finances.
The average emergency room visit costs over $1200. If you stay overnight, these costs multiply. A multi-night stay at the hospital costs upwards of $10,000. In fact, medical bills are the number one reason that Americans file for bankruptcy.
What Is the Affordable Care Act?
Former President Obama and the United States Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to give people another option. The law was designed specifically to help people who can’t afford health insurance. The ACA established a health care marketplace where consumers can shop for insurance.
One of the best perks of shopping in the ACA marketplace is the official government guidance. The marketplace asks you for information on your family size, income, and other qualifying factors.
The government evaluates this information to see if you qualify for government programs. There are a host of state and federal programs to help people afford health care. Depending on your income, you may also qualify for tax subsidies to reduce the overall cost.
What Is Medicaid?
Medicaid is a government entitlement program designed to provide health care for low-income Americans. Each state operates its own Medicaid program. This means that the eligibility requirements vary from state to state.
The good news is that the ACA marketplace informs you whether you qualify and how to apply. Like the eligibility requirements, the cost and coverage also vary by state. The ACA marketplace helps you identify this information.
What Is Medicare?
Medicare is another health care entitlement program administered by the government. The difference between Medicare and Medicaid is that the former program is designed for elderly Americans.
Medicare is specifically for people that are aged 65 years or older. Every American on payroll contributes to this entitlement program throughout their career. If you look at a paystub, you will notice a deduction for the Medicare tax.
There are three common parts of Medicare. They are referred to as Parts A, B, and D. These parts refer to hospital care, medical insurance, and prescription drugs, respectively.
In limited cases, a person can qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare. These individuals are called dual eligible and the state’s Medicaid program pays a portion of your Medicare fees.
What Is CHIP?
CHIP stands for Children’s Health Insurance Plan. Each state offers health insurance plans to guarantee insurance coverage for children.
Specifically, CHIP is a low-cost option for those that earn too much money for Medicaid qualification. Like Medicaid, the plan’s costs and coverage vary from state to state.
One advantage to CHIP is that the coverage is comprehensive. Preventative care is generally covered free of charge. Depending on the state, there may be a copay or coinsurance for medical diagnosis and treatment.
What Are Urgent Care Centers?
Due to the skyrocketing costs of hospital care, urgent care centers are springing up across the nation. These centers, like the urgent care bronx recently opened, provide expanded medical diagnosis and treatment capability.
They have significantly more capability than a primary care physician. For example, urgent care facilities perform x-rays and lab work on site without the huge facility costs.
Another advantage of urgent care is flexible hours. Many primary care physicians have regular office hours. They close around 5 pm and do not open their doors on the weekends.
Due to these limitations, many Americans had no choice but to go to the emergency room for care. Urgent care centers reduce the total cost to Americans because they don’t receive huge hospital bills.
The average cost of an urgent care visit is $150, compared to over $1200 for a hospital. Even if you can’t afford health insurance, an urgent care facility is a better option than the hospital in some cases.
You should be aware that hospitals have significantly more resources than urgent care. A hospital is staffed with many specialists and equipment that is not available at urgent care.
What Are Some Other Options for Low-Cost Insurance?
What if you do not qualify for a government program like Medicaid or CHIP? Some of the Bronze plans on the ACA marketplace are still too expensive for many.
There are still private industry options for those that can’t afford health insurance. Use the internet to locate plans with a cheap monthly premium.
It is important for you to realize the drawbacks of these cheap plans. If the plans are sold outside the ACA marketplace, it means they do not mean the minimum quality standards of the government.
Perhaps they place limitations on pre-existing condition coverage. Another example is that they may not fully cover preventative or maternity coverage. If you go this route, make sure to carefully read the insurance plan’s brochure.
Options Recap for Those That Can’t Afford Health Insurance
Everyone gets sick or injured at some point in their life. Having health insurance is the best way to protect your financial interests and promote good health outcomes.
If you enjoyed this article about low-cost options for those that can’t afford health insurance, check out our lifestyle blog for other great pieces.