Looking to find cheap and affordable health insurance? Here is everything you need to know about finding coverage on a budget.
When it comes to shopping for cheap health insurance, cost is one of the biggest factors people consider when making a decision. According to a 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey, cost is also one of the reasons why almost half of the uninsured population (45%) doesn’t have health insurance.
Going uninsured may not be your cheapest option especially if you are hit with an unexpected full-priced healthcare bill. For instance, according to costhelper.com the cost of an emergency visit can range anywhere from $150-$3,000 and can be much more if you required an ambulance.
Is health insurance always expensive?
Health insurance doesn’t have to be out of your price range. There are cheap health insurance plans on the market and ways that middle to low-income individuals and families can receive government assistance to help offset the cost.
Here are 5 steps to finding cheap health insurance that suits your needs:
- Figure out what your budget is
- Look at your healthcare needs, past and present
- Learn if you are eligible for alternate options
- Look at your income to see if you are eligible for federal subsides
- Compare plans and choose the right one for you
Figure out what your budget is
Unlike with rent or mortgage payments – which people like to cap at 1/3 of their income – there is no rule of thumb about how much of your income you want to spend on health insurance. Spending on health insurance is a highly subjective subject. Part of this is because health insurance isn’t just comprised of the set monthly cost (premium), but also has costs that will add up depending on how you use your plan and how much health care you need.
Depending on how much health care you need the percentage of what you should spend on a premium may increase or decrease.
Regardless of budget you should be able to find cheap health insurance that covers your needs.
Look at your healthcare needs, both past and present
A great way to assess the level of coverage you need is by looking back at your past health care needs. This should give you a good idea of what your year in healthcare looks like, allow that to inform your decision about the level of coverage you’ll need.
Also look ahead to your potential future needs. Are you or your partner pregnant or looking to become pregnant? Are there any procedures or services that you need to schedule for the upcoming year? The answer to these questions may help inform your decision about if you should opt for a plan with a high deductible and a low premium, or a low deductible and a high premium.
While a low premium plan may seem like the most cheap health insurance plans, depending on the amount of care you require you may want to consider a plan with a higher premium and a low deductible. A higher set monthly cost usually means that you reach your deductible faster, and pay less out of pocket for each time you require care.
Keep in mind that due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all individual health insurance plans – even cheap health insurance plans – must cover 10 health benefits:
- Emergency room visits
- Lab tests
- Inpatient care in hospital
- Care before and after birth
- Mental health and substance use disorder services
- Prescription drugs
- Outpatient Care
- Care to help you recover from an injury or deal with a disability or chronic condition
- Preventative care
- Dental and vision care for children
. It’s important to check your plan details carefully before purchasing with the assumption that certain things will be covered differently than you thought. Each plan has its own terms and limitations, so be sure to check the official plan documents to understand how that specific plan works. This article is only for general education.”
Learn if you are eligible for alternative options
If you are a low-income individual or family, you may be able to qualify for Medicaid or CHIP (if you have children), which are government programs that seek to offer free or cheap health insurance to those who would struggle to afford coverage otherwise.
Look at your income to see if you are eligible for federal subsidies
Depending on how much your yearly income is in comparison to the federal poverty line (FPL), you may qualify for Obamacare subsidies to help you pay your monthly premium – these are called premium tax credits. You may also qualify for help paying for your out-of-pocket expenses, like deductibles and copayments – these are called cost-sharing reduction payments (CSR).
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the 2019 federal poverty guidelines are as follows:
|Household Size||100% of the FPL||400% of the FPL|
Source: 2019 HHS FPL guidelines published in Federal Register
If you make between 100% and 400% of the FPL you may be eligible for premium tax credits. If you make 250% or under, you may be eligible for CSR payments.
Compare plans and choose the right one for you
Once have a good idea of what your budget is, what your needs are, and if you qualify for government assistance it’s time to compare plans.
eHealth is one of the largest online health insurance brokers and carries plans that you may not be able to get on government exchanges. eHealth allows you to compare over 13,000 plans from over 180 carriers and you can get help from our insurance agents. The best part is that it’s all completely free, the help you get through eHealth is at no cost to you and any plan you buy through eHealth is guaranteed to be the same price as the same plan purchase elsewhere.
If you’re looking for cheap health insurance, try shopping with eHealth.
This article is for general information and may not be updated after publication.