There are more than 27 million Americans without health insurance. That number is sure to increase as layoffs continue due to COVID-19, and the Affordable Care Act could be invalidated by the Supreme Court.
The fact is that almost half of those uninsured cite the high cost of coverage as the main reason why they’re insured. It can be a vulnerable time because the cost of health care is astronomical. A minor health issue could leave you bankrupt or in a financial mess.
What are your options if you can’t afford health insurance? Keep reading to learn how you can get health coverage even if you can’t afford it.
Do You Have Insurance Now?
Are you in a situation where you have health insurance now, but can no longer afford the payments? The first step you can take is to contact your health insurance provider.
They may have a grace period or work with you to help you maintain your coverage.
For example, if you just got laid off, you could be eligible for COBRA, but that coverage is often too expensive. Let your insurance company know and they’ll give you some alternatives to help you through the situation.
Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance
Do you have a spouse or partner that has health insurance coverage through their employer? There may be an option to add you on to their health insurance plan.
You may have to pay a portion of your health coverage, but it will be much more affordable than going without insurance or paying for health insurance out of pocket.
Many people look at government-subsidized programs with disdain because there is a stigma attached to having financial assistance. The truth is that these programs can save you from financial ruin and get the insurance you need.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you can apply for health coverage through the Healthcare Marketplace. Some states have their own marketplace websites that you have to use to apply for coverage.
You’ll list your income on your application, and based on that information, you’ll see if you’re eligible for tax credits. The tax credits are used to pay for your health insurance premiums, which will lower your out-of-pocket costs for health insurance.
If you meet the income threshold in your state, you may qualify for Medicaid.
What’s the difference between Medicaid and Medicare? Medicaid is an insurance plan that’s available for people with low incomes.
Medicare is a government program that you paid into your entire working career. Every paycheck, you have to pay 1.45% of your earnings for Medicare. Your employer matches your contribution as part of their payroll taxes.
When you turn 65, you can become eligible for health coverage under Medicare. Since you’ve paid into it, your overall health care costs are dramatically reduced.
Medicare has several parts to it. The most well-known parts are A and B. Part A covers hospital stays. Medicare Part B covers things like office visits and lab tests.
Can you qualify for Medicare if you’re under 65? It is an option for people with disabilities, as long as you’ve been collecting Social Security Disability Insurance payments for two years.
Short-Term Insurance Plans
You may be in a situation where you can’t apply for health coverage because it’s outside the enrollment period. You may be able to get short-term coverage.
These plans are very affordable, but they have a high deductible. If you need to use the insurance, you should expect to pay quite a bit out of pocket for health care.
Going Without Insurance
When you can’t afford health coverage, you are inclined to just go without it because you can’t afford it. That is a huge risk because you have to pay out of pocket for everything – doctor’s visits, medicine, and hospital stays.
If you like to play sports or work out regularly, remember that one miscue could send you to the ER. You’ll have to think twice about playing contact sports for fun.
If you have kids, think about the germs that they carry around are exposed to. They need health care coverage the most, and you don’t want to pay out of pocket for medical expenses.
Without health care coverage, you’re more inclined to put off treatments and preventative care. You could turn a minor issue into a major one because you didn’t seek treatment.
You have to think twice if you are thinking about going without coverage. There could be long-term consequences to your finances and your health.
Understanding Your Health Insurance Plan
You may have found a health insurance plan that meets your budget, but does it really meet your needs? In the case of short-term plans, they have high deductibles.
Let’s say you have a plan that offers a low premium of $70 a month. Your deductible is $10,000. You would have to pay out of pocket for all of your medical expenses up to $10,000 before your insurance kicks in.
You may also find that your coverage doesn’t cover the things you need the most. One of your regular doctors may be out of network, so you would pay more to see that doctor.
The things you have to compare before getting insurance are your premium, deductible, and coverage. Examine these things closely to ensure you get the coverage you need for the lowest cost.
Steps to Take If You Can’t Afford Health Insurance
What happens if you can’t afford health insurance? All is not lost, and you shouldn’t take the risk to go without coverage. Explore some of the options listed in this article.
You also shouldn’t choose a plan just because you can afford it. Make sure that you understand your plan before you sign up for it.
For more smart money tips, check out other articles in the Insurance section of this site.