When shopping for cheap health insurance, cost is probably the most important factor to consider.
According to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), cost is one of the main reasons why around 45% of the population in the United States does not have health insurance. Unfortunately, living without health insurance is certainly not your best or cheapest option. Imagine what could happen if you suddenly fall sick and you’re faced with an unforeseen hefty healthcare bill. As such, it’s of great importance to find cheap health insurance or health insurance that’s within your price range.
Finding cheap health insurance depends on your household income. The cheapest option is to enroll in Medicaid but your income must be below 138% of the federal poverty level. Again, your eligibility may depend on the state you live in. You can also search for the most affordable individual health insurance deal through your state marketplace.
Honestly speaking, you might feel that health insurance in the United States is expensive if you’re new to the industry. However, it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is to explore your options and look for low-cost or even free health insurance options. That can only be possible if you know how to get cheap health insurance, and that is what this article is about.
Does Health Insurance have to be Expensive?
If you’re new to health insurance, you can feel that it’s expensive, especially if you do not know how to find cheap health insurance or where to find low-cost health insurance. Truth be told, health insurance in the United States is never free unless you’re eligible for Medicaid.
But even with that, you don’t have to go for health insurance that you cannot afford. This is because there are various cheap health insurance plans in the marketplace. There are also government programs that can help you offset the health insurance cost.
How to Find Cheap Health Insurance
Here are a few smart steps to finding cheap health insurance that suits your budget and needs.
Learn about Alternative Options to Health Insurance
Many people may not believe in this mantra but the cheapest purchase is one that you don’t make. Although many people aren’t aware of this, it’s very possible not to have to buy individual health insurance. This will, however, depend on the state you live in and of course, your income level.
If you’re a low-income individual or family, you can qualify for Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that’s if you have kids. These are essentially government programs that offer free or cheap health insurance for those who cannot afford health insurance.
The best thing to do is to contact or visit your nearest Medicaid office or visit Healthcare.gov to find out if you’re eligible. You can also go to the Medicaid CHIP website if you have kids and want to find out if they’re eligible for coverage.
You can as well check if your kids are eligible under other parent’s coverage. If your former spouse has employer-provided health insurance, chances are your kids could be included under the coverage.
Check Out if You are Eligible for Federal Subsidies
You may be eligible for Obamacare subsidies that can assist you in paying for your health insurance monthly premiums. This will, however, depend on your annual income and how it compares to the Federal Poverty Line (FPL). Also known as premium tax credits, these subsidies can cover your out-of-pocket expenses such as copayments and deductibles.
You can be eligible for premium tax credits if you make between 100% and 400% of the FPL.
Know What You Need and can Afford
Let’s say that you’re not eligible for government subsidies or programs, the most crucial step in finding cheap health insurance is to establish exactly what you need as far as your health insurance coverage is concerned. You have to keep in mind that you’ll pay more than you actually need if you buy more coverage.
The best thing to do is to go for the essential health benefits including outpatient care, emergency room visits, prescription drugs, inpatient care, maternity care, lab tests, mental health, preventive service, occupational therapy, chronic condition therapy, dental care, and vision care.
Figure Out Your Budget
You have to understand that the amount of money you spend on health insurance is a highly subjective matter and may vary from one person to another. In other words, there’s no rule of thumb as to how much you can spend on your health insurance. So the cost of your health insurance may increase depending on how much health care you need.
As such, figuring out your budget and what you can perfectly spend on your health care is a crucial step in finding cheap health insurance.
Compare Plans and Choose the Right One for You
Once you have an idea of what your health needs are and have figured out your budget, you can compare various plans to see what can work perfectly for you. You can go to the healthcare.gov website where you’ll find all the health insurance options in your state as well as the available government subsidies.
You can also compare plans on eHealth, which is the largest online health insurance broker with over 13,000 plans. You can as well go directly to various health insurers’ websites and find quotes that might be helpful when comparing prices.
The entire process of comparing plans might be hectic and painful but this is what you need to do if you want to find cheap health insurance that suits your needs. Make sure that you compare everything and find what’s affordable to you and best suits your needs.
You can then compare and choose between health insurance metal tiers including bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. You have to keep in mind that bronze plans are generally cheaper as far as monthly premiums are concerned but will only cover 60% of your medical costs. On the other hand, platinum plans may command higher monthly premiums but will cover 90% of your medical costs.
Let’s get a bit more into the details.
Bronze Plans – Lowest Rates but High Out-of-pocket Expenses
Bronze health insurance plans are, without a doubt, among the cheapest health insurance options on the marketplace. They often have very lower monthly premiums but you should look beyond that. Simply put, Bronze plans often have higher out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles than other plans.
As such, it can be a great option if you aren’t expecting large medical expenses but may not be the best plan if you have to visit the hospitals frequently.
Silver Plans – Cheapest Rates and Best Option for Low-income Households
Silver plans offer a sort of middle ground as they have modest monthly premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses. This can be the best option for low-income households who are eligible for government subsidies such as premium tax credit.
Gold Plans – Higher Premiums with Low Out-of-pocket Expenses
These are among the most expensive health insurance plans in the marketplace but that may be beneficial in the long run as you will have to pay very affordable deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. As such, it can be an ideal option if you expect large medical expenses during the period of the health insurance plan.
Platinum Plans – Very High Premium but Very Low Out-of-pocket Expenses
While platinum plans may command the highest monthly premiums, it’s a great option if you want to entirely do away with out-of-pocket expenses. It is an ideal option if you expect high medical bills but do not want to pay out-of-pocket expenses. In most cases, you’ll pay zero out-of-pocket expenses.
Pick a Plan that’s Cheap but also Best Meets Your Needs
It’s worth noting that looking at prices alone isn’t the only way to go when looking for cheap health insurance that best suits your needs. In other words, buying health insurance just because it’s cheap may not make much sense if it doesn’t meet your needs.
That being said, you should go beyond monetary comparisons when looking for cheap health insurance. Instead, consider other factors such as the provider networks and anything else that’s important to you and your well-being.