Acquiring affordable health insurance that pays a large portion of your medical bills seems to get more challenging every year. Thanks to the affordable care act which imposes increasingly larger penalties for not having health insurance, most people are unable to simply live without it.
You may feel like there is no longer any such thing as cheap health insurance, but you can begin with our list of pre-qualified companies to acquire an understanding of the plans and to find quotes for insurance you can afford. Enter your zip code and click on the "start quote" button. Be aware, that, depending on the companies that respond, you may receive a phone call from one or more licensed agents. Some people regard such calls as a nuisance, but, due to the wide range of variables from health condition to life-style, it is almost impossible for any company to give you an exact quote without speaking to you in more detail. Furthermore, the insurance laws in some states do not permit generic health insurance quotes. Nevertheless, you should be able to at least get a range of costs using our tools.
Prior to the Affordable Care Act, health insurance plans were numerous and widely varied. There were so many differences in coverage that it was difficult to figure out what coverage a person had unless an insurance professional interpreted your policy for you. Deductibles, riders, pre-existing exclusions, and coverage limitations could be different, not only from one company to another, but from one policy to another even from the same company. For example, one group policy might offer employees a medical savings plan while the employer across the street might have no such benefit. Individual policies also could have significant differences, depending on factors like age and how much the client was willing to pay.
People over 65 who have Medicare have been familiar with the standardization of plans since the early 90s. Medicare has the same benefits nationwide, the same deductibles and the same premium unless a person has exceptionally high income. Medicare supplements, the plans that pay what Medicare does not, are likewise standardized. A "G" plan, for example will have the same benefits anywhere in the country regardless of the company offering the plan.
While it did not lower costs, the ACA did bring about a standardization of health insurance. Instead of hundreds of companies across the country, we now have only a dozen or two, with many familiar names being nested in bigger giants. Blue Cross/Blue Shield, with variations of the company in every state, and United Health are two of those giants. United Health now owns Golden Rule, Assurant and numerous others. Cigna and Aetna are two more that have remained active in many states.
The name of the company today is probably less important than the level of coverage because the coverage details themselves are very similar from one company to another. Plans are categorized according to how much deductible you want, your out of pocket max, and your premium. Furthermore, the premium is not determined solely by the coverage. Those with high income have to pay more for the same coverage than those with a lower income. If your income is low enough, you may qualify for a government subsidy and end up with a premium of well under $100 a month. Be aware, however, that if you qualify for a subsidy, you may receive a government statement at tax time and have to report the subsidy as income on your taxes even though you personally did not receive the money.
Companies now offer one of four plans—Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. The Bronze has the lowest premiums but also the highest deductibles and coinsurance. Those under age 30 may be able to obtain a catastrophic plan with an even lower premium and higher deductibles and copays. All plans, except the catastrophic will cover the same events—which include pregnancy and drug abuse counseling. Yes, strange as it may seem, men pay for pregnancy. Supposedly, everyone's policy includes the same "essential" benefits.
Since high deductibles are a feature of many of today's private policies—it is not uncommon to have deductibles of $5000 or more—you may want to invest in one or more supplemental policies for the coverage of "ancillary" benefits. These are policies like cancer insurance, dental insurance and catastrophic illness insurance. Such policies are very inexpensive, but can provide significant relief to the wallet if a covered event occurs. A cancer policy, an example of one such policy, would only pay if you get cancer, but depending on the policy, it can pay thousands of dollars in addition to whatever your health insurance pays. People who have such policies often value them highly.
If you can't afford health insurance, you might want to check out a cheap alternative that will provide you with major medical coverage for a low cost. These plans are known as "cost sharing plans," and are not considered insurance. Yet, due to a clause left in the Senate version of the ACA, those who choose this route are exempt from the Obamacare fines. We're talking about plans like Liberty Health Share, Christian Health Ministries, Samaritan Ministries, and others. Each organization has its own rules regarding lifestyle and pre-existing conditions, but if you meet their requirements, you will find that the premium and deductibles are often dramatically lower than those under the ACA. Some groups offer family plans, but most cost sharing plans are individual.
If you already have Medicare—due to being 65 or having certain disabling conditions—the ACA does not apply to you. You are also exempt if you are already on Medicaid, TriCare, or have VA benefits. It is this writer's view that TriCare, particularly, is one of the best programs any individual could have, and although it is for service men and women and their families, it does not limit a person to VA doctors or facilities.