According to the National Association of Health Underwriters, the number of Americans without health insurance last year could have been as high as 45 million. This translates into a large number of people who needed health care services but failed to procure them because they couldn’t afford it. Many Americans are therefore asking themselves whether the companies they work for have low cost health insurance.
If you need to buy your own coverage, you can begin your online search for health insurance rates by entering your zip code into our free search tool.
The difficulty in determining whether your company has low-cost insurance is defining the terms. What is “low-cost” to someone making $50,000 a year may be very expensive to someone making only $30,000. The fact is, private health insurance is not based on a consumer’s ability to pay. It is based on factors like:
- The general health of the community where you live
- How many members are in a group plan (where applicable)
- Your current health and life situation
- Other things
I just started a new job, where do I go to find out about low-cost health insurance?
Hopefully, health insurance coverage was part of the discussion you had during your initial or second interview. If not, any information about company benefits, including health care coverage, should be readily available from the human resources department. You may have to schedule an appointment to see a department representative if you work for a large company, while employees of smaller companies can often simply stop by the human resources office at any time during the workday and get the needed information.
It also helps to speak with other employees who have worked for the same company for a number of years. They will have experience with the company’s healthcare options and will be able to give you sound advice. You may not find what you consider low-cost insurance, but at least you’ll know what your employer offers and whether or not you can afford. If you work for a larger company with the appropriate financial means, you may be one of the fortunate ones with several options from which to choose.
I can’t afford contributions to my employer’s plan, so what do I do?
With very few exceptions, employers allow their employees to opt out of health care coverage if they cannot afford to make their contributions. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean your company will give you their portion of the contributions as extra pay. Some will, some won’t. If your employer does, at least you’ll be able to take that pay and use it to offset the cost of purchasing your own insurance. Just remember that it might make you ineligible for government-subsidized insurance in some cases.
When employers allow you to opt out while at the same time not giving you extra pay, you’re probably a perfect candidate for a federally funded health care program in your state. There are specific individuals who do not qualify for these programs because of their occupation, but by and large, you will qualify as long as you meet certain income requirements. Typically, these state programs are designed to ensure adequate healthcare for children, even though parents reap some benefits as well.
How will the Affordable Care Act affect low-cost health insurance provided by companies?
The Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010, is a source of much debate within the healthcare insurance industry. Parts of it have already been implemented while the remainder goes into full effect in 2014. Critics of the legislation believe that many employers will find it too financially difficult to continue providing low-cost health insurance to their employees, despite the tax credits being offered them. It is believed that such companies will simply drop their health care plans and pay the government penalty because it will be less expensive. Already we are seeing evidence of this being true, both in companies seeking exemptions from the healthcare law and others who have already dropped coverage.
On the other hand, the law’s proponents claim that the establishment of health-care exchanges will make low-cost insurance affordable for most companies in America. They claim the combination of tax credits and statewide insurance groups will translate into better rates for everyone involved. We’ll have to wait and see whether this is the case because there are no hard numbers to back it up. Either way, health insurance is destined to change drastically in 2014.
Be proactive with your health care coverage by searching for online health insurance quotes right now – enter your zip code to get started!