The battle over public healthcare continues to rage on in our nation’s capital, with no end in sight. But American’s health problems don’t take a break just because the government can’t make up its mind. People still need access to healthcare that they can afford. Here are five suggestions for getting care without going bankrupt.
1. Look for Special Programs You May Qualify For
There are some government health assistance programs still in place for people who face certain difficulties. These programs provide federally subsidized healthcare to people who otherwise couldn’t afford it. If you’re over the age of 65, you most likely qualify for Medicare, which you can apply for through your state health insurance exchange. You can do the same to find out if you qualify for Medicaid, a program for particularly low-income Americans, although the requirements for Medicaid vary greatly from state to state.
If you have children, you might also look into CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) which fills in the gaps for families who don’t qualify for Medicaid but would otherwise go without healthcare. You can enroll through your state health insurance exchange.
2. If You’re Under 26, Stay on Your Parent’s Plan
One change that the Affordable Care Act implemented that’s helped many young people is extending the length of time that they can remain covered under their parent’s insurance plan, whether provided by their employer or otherwise. If you’re under 26, this is a great option. There may be additional costs to your parents, but reimbursing them for these costs will almost certainly be cheaper than getting your own plan. You don’t need to prove that you’re incapable of paying for your own plan to do this.
3. Look Into Joint Coverage
If you have a long-term romantic partner, you may qualify for joint coverage. This can be less expensive for both of you than paying for individual plans. If one of you is covered by your employer, the other may be eligible for the same coverage. And in many situations, it’s not necessary to actually be married to qualify, if you cohabitate and have done so for an extended period.
4. Check Out High Deductible Plans
High-deductible plans have lower monthly premiums but require you to pay more out of pocket if you incur major medical expenses. You’re only covered for three visits to a primary care doctor-any care you need after that is going to be up to you to pay for, up to a $6,850 deductible. These plans are great if you’re someone who rarely visits the doctor and you’re in generally good health.
The Affordable Care Act limits these plans to people under 30 and others who qualify for a hardship exception (like homelessness or bankruptcy). These plans are not eligible for many state subsidies, so you should be careful before pouncing on the lowest premium – in many cases, a subsidy could make up the difference and provide better coverage.
5. Don’t Get Coverage You Don’t Need
Look carefully at what’s covered under the plans you’re considering. Many plans lump all sorts of coverage together, including kinds of coverage only select groups will ever actually need. If you’re paying for coverage that’s unnecessary, you might be able to lower your premium by eliminating it from your plan. Some extras that you might consider eliminating: maternity coverage if you’re not planning to become pregnant, death benefits if you’re not married or have no dependents, etc. Make sure your plan covers only what you need and you’ll find your premium may be lower than you expected.
Keeping up with the shifting status of healthcare is difficult. But these suggestions are likely to apply regardless of what the government does with regard to the ACA. Start your search for affordable coverage now!