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Step-By-Step Guide To Obtaining Affordable Health Insurance Plan This Year

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Health insurance is a complicated matter, all of the options can seem overwhelming. It may seem difficult to find affordable health insurance, but fortunately, there are some cheap options available.

Before you choose a cheap plan, though, you should determine what coverage you need and how much you’re able and willing to pay. Then, shopping around in multiple locations will let you discover the best plan.

Alternatives to Individual Health Insurance

You don’t necessarily have to purchase individual health insurance. Depending on your income and the state you live in, you may be eligible for coverage through Medicaid. You can contact your Medicaid office or check Healthcare.gov for information about eligibility in your state. If you have kids, they may qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP. You can find out whether your kids are eligible on the Medicaid CHIP site.

Consider Your Circumstances

All plans offer at least basic coverage for most medical needs. However, cheaper plans will have much more limited coverage for many of these benefits. Think of any specific needs you or your family has. Do you expect any major changes in your health situation? Do you or a family member take prescription medications? How often do you visit a doctor? Do you or a family member need dental or vision coverage? If you don’t qualify for Medicaid and need to purchase individual insurance, determine what you can afford and what coverage you need. The ACA requires that all individual plans cover:

  • Dental and vision care for kids
  • Prescription drugs
  • Lab tests
  • Preventive services
  • Recovery from injury or services for disability
  • Emergency room visits
  • Outpatient and inpatient care
  • Care before and after having a baby
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services

Search On Healthcare.gov

You can complete an application on Healthcare.gov during the open enrollment period. You can also apply year-round if you’ve experienced a life event like getting married or divorced, having a baby, or losing coverage through your job. Healthcare.gov will list insurance options in your state along with their premiums and federal subsidies you could receive.

Compare Health Plan Levels

Plans can either be bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. Bronze plans are your cheapest option, but they only cover 60 percent of medical costs. Platinum plans cover 90 percent of costs but are the most expensive. Look at your medical costs from the past few years. Assuming your health situation remains the same, calculate how much money you’d spend on copayments, co-insurance, and deductibles with each plan you view on Healthcare.gov.

Search On eHealth

eHealth is the largest online health insurance broker, and it has thousands of plans from almost 200 carriers. The site will ask you some questions and show you plans that fit your criteria. You’ll probably find affordable options that weren’t listed on Healthcare.gov. You can also try GetInsured and GoHealth, two similar online health insurance sites.

Meet With An Insurance Agent

To shop around for even more options, visiting a health insurance agent in person can be helpful. Some agents will only offer coverage from one company, but others will show you plans from several providers. This is usually better if you’re shopping around for the best rate.

Catastrophic Plans

High-deductible or catastrophic plans are another cheap option that offers low premiums. The plans cover three visits to a primary care doctor per year, prescription medications, and a few other essential benefits. All other medical coverage has a very high deductible. In 2017, the deductible was $7,150. Catastrophic plans are only a good financial choice if you’re young and in great health. You should also have enough savings to cover the deductible in case of an unexpected medical emergency. You can qualify for a catastrophic plan if you’re under 30 or over 30 with a hardship exemption. Some hardship exemptions include:

  • Homelessness
  • Bankruptcy
  • Recent eviction
  • Death of a family member
  • Severely damaged property from a natural disaster
  • Short Term Plans

What To Know About Short Term Plans

You can find short-term insurance plans for as low as $50 to $100 per month. This may be your cheapest possible option. However, the ACA’s protections don’t apply to short-term plans. If you have preexisting conditions, providers may deny you coverage. If you become very ill, providers might not allow you to renew your plan. You also may receive tax penalties because the ACA doesn’t consider short-term plans to be adequate coverage. Short-term plans have a high deductible, usually several thousand dollars. For most people, short-term plans are only a good option for a month or two between jobs. However, if you’re looking to pay the least possible amount on health insurance, short-term insurance might provide you with the low premiums you want.

What Kind Of Insurance Will You Need? 

You can get Medicare if you are disabled or over 65. You will be on Tricare if you are retired military, and you will have insurance that covers your family if you are buying an insurance policy from a regular company or from the marketplace. You might need to invest in plans that you see published every year, and you must search through these companies to be sure that you have found the plans that you think are best.

What About Medicare?

There are things to know about enrollment period dates when you want to get Medicare, and you still need to find companies that provide affordable health insurance. You need to look through each company because they are all different, and you also need to see if these companies can provide the level of coverage that you deserve. Some companies will give you what you need, but others might not. You might also need supplemental insurance if you go on Medicare. This is the cost of doing business on a plan like this, and you should research each plan before making a decision.

What About Marketplace? 

There are many things to know about the enrollment period when you are shopping in the marketplace, and you also need to be sure that you have actually sought out the companies that provide affordable health insurance. There are many people who will want to invest in a plan because it has a specific network, or they might choose a company they feel comfortable with. It all depends on what you would like to do because your family has needs that are unique. Look at comparison charts online, and call the companies if you want them to explain your coverage.

Should I Look Into Life Insurance? Image result for life insurance

You might need to look for life insurance because you need to get started on life planning, or you might get life insurance for the whole family. You just need to make a decision that you think would be the best for you. You can get smaller plans for your kids, or you can get much more expensive policies for yourself. You can ask an agent to help you gauge the value of the policy, and you will save money because these policies are very cheap compared to their overall value.

Can You Change Plans? 

You can change plans at any time, but you need to be sure that you have called the insurance company to ask about their policy for changing your plan. They can help you in most cases because it will fall in the special enrollment period, but that does not mean that you can get the exact plan you want. You have to walk through this with the company, or you need to call the national call center for the marketplace. You can do the same with Medicare, but that does not mean that you can get the plan you should have gotten the first time around. It would be smarter to do more research when you start so that you can get it right.

How Do You Choose The Right Company? Image result for customer service illustration

The right company has a good credit rating and customer service rating. You must be certain that you have found a company that has a good credit rating because they will not overcharge for their insurance. You can find a plan that is affordable, and you will pay for a policy that is easy to file claims on. You should read reviews of these companies because the reviews will tell you if the company has a good claims policy. Any company that has low credit ratings have to charge you more because they have to get more money to operate. A company with a bad customer service rating cannot help you because they have not invested in customer care. Your policies will last for a year regardless of how they are paid for or where you got them. You will renew every year, and you need to make regular premium payments to keep the policies up. Be sure that you have kept a watch over the enrollment period for your insurance, checked the marketplace, or called the insurance company for more information.