How to Get Free Medical Insurance
With the rising cost of medical and health care these days, people are looking for a way to get free or low-cost health insurance in record numbers. Despite all of its problems, The Affordable Health Care Act did provide medical coverage to millions of people across the country that seemed affordable at the time of its inception.
It also offered people a way to have insurance who previously did not have any coverage for medical care. But with Obamacare now suffering from a decrease in enrollment and health care cooperatives bailing out of the program in droves, many are trying to find ways to get free or reduced price health insurance to cover their needs.
There are a few programs which provide free health insurance to those who qualify. In this post, we will discuss some of the ways that you can look into free coverage through government and other types of programs that provide for those who qualify.
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What is Medicaid?
Medicaid is a government program that provides aid to needy families and children who cannot afford it by themselves. Some of the types of people who qualify for Medicaid include:
- Low-income people
- Families and children
- Pregnant women
- Elderly people
- Disabled persons
In addition to these individuals, there may be other categories that you could fall into that would cover you under state medical programs. You will need to go to the government website to find out if you qualify for free insurance. In all cases, it is not enough to meet the above guidelines.
You also have to meet the income eligibility requirements set aside by the U.S. government as the maximum income that you can make to get free health care.
What is CHIP?
CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) is a part of Medicaid that offers free coverage for children of low-income households who meet a specific income level threshold. You must go to their website and go through the pre-registration process to find out if you quality.
You can read the below information to get an idea of what your monthly and annual income can be and still receive benefits.
General Income Level Requirements
If your monthly income is $1,800 or less or your annual income is $21,600 or less, you may qualify for Children’s Medicaid. If your monthly income is $2,721 or less or your annual income is $32,643 or less, you may qualify for the program.
What does Medicaid cover?
It is important to understand what Medicaid covers so that you will know what you are getting. The following is a list of the primary services that are covered by Medicaid benefits.
- Routine check-ups – Medicaid covers routine check-ups and child wellness visits that you get as a preventive measure for staying healthy. This includes child wellness through the CHIP program as well. You will not be able to visit more often than the program allows unless a follow-up is ordered.
- Immunizations – Both Medicaid and CHIP cover child immunizations that are required for entering or maintaining status in the public school system or other situations.
- Doctor visits – Doctor visits due to illness are covered as long as it is to treat a specific illness or to prevent illness.
- Prescriptions – Prescription medications are covered provided they are prescribed by your primary doctor or your child’s doctor and approved by your doctor’s office or pharmacy.
- Dental and vision care – Medicaid also covers dental and vision care including primary or yearly screenings and follow-up care that is needed to maintain vision and dental health. Some oral surgeries or other treatments may not be covered under the free plan.
- Inpatient and outpatient hospital care – Medicaid will cover any inpatient or outpatient hospital care that is required such as surgeries or treatment for a specific illness. There may be limits to this so check with your doctor to see if you are covered.
- Laboratory and X-ray services – In most cases, lab and x-rays are also covered.
- Emergency services – Emergency services such as ambulance, emergency treatments, and other services are usually covered.
What is a co-pay?
In some cases, you may be required to pay a “co-pay” for some of the above services. This depends on your state of residence and the specific Medicaid laws in your state.
Even though Medicaid and CHIP are federal programs, there may be some differences in how the states mete out treatment in many cases. A co-pay is an arrangement where companies pay up to half, and you pay the other half for doctor visits, prescription medications, and other services.
If you do have to pay a co-pay, you will never have to pay more than 5 percent of your annual income in most cases, as per federal legislation. This chart shows more accurate information for every state on what Medicaid will pay for your health care costs, based on the number of children in your household and other factors.
How to Apply for Medicaid
If you want to apply for Medicaid to see whether you qualify, you can do this one of two different ways:
- Health Insurance Marketplace – The Health Insurance Marketplace is a service that helps people shop for affordable health insurance. You can do this through a search or locate a health insurance marketplace service in your state that will have options that you will benefit from.
- State Medicaid agency – Your State Medicaid agency is a good way to find out what programs you are eligible for including Medicaid.
Alternatives to Medicaid
Many people start out applying for Medicaid and then discover that they do not qualify due to their level of income or other factors. If this is the case, you may want to look for other options such as low-cost insurance from private insurance companies.
One of these options that you may want to look into is an HMO system. HMO stands for “health management organization.” The first HMO was developed and signed into law by former President Richard Nixon in 1973. It was created to meet the needs of lower income or struggling families who could not afford traditional or more expensive medical care.
While there are limits to what HMOs cover, in general, it covers a wide range of medical services including doctors’ visits, treatments, lab tests, hospitalization costs, and much more.
Remember that HMOs are not health care in and of itself. Instead, they are considered a medical delivery model or “a way in which medical and health care services are delivered to the patient.”
Advantages of HMOS
HMOs are designed to keep costs down, and it is dependent upon many people being and staying in the network of doctors and health care professionals that are designated to work within the system. If you don’t mind sticking to the network for your health care services, you may be able to find a health insurance plan that will benefit you that will not cost you a fortune.
The network is relatively large so under an HMO plan, you will be able to choose from a wide variety of doctors, specialists, dentists, and other professionals who can deliver health care to you, all at reduced costs.
The problem is that the trade-off you make is your loss of choice as you will always pay more for deciding to go outside of the network that is chosen by the people who run the HMO.
One thing that is confusing to people is how you can determine which companies are with an HMO and which are not. Individual insurance companies can decide whether they want to be associated with such delivery models. Many choose not to. So, when you are shopping for low-cost health insurance, this is one of the things you will want to look into and research further.
To help, check out this chart that shows some various independent health insurers and the type of health care system they honor. Some honor more than one type, including PPOs and EPOs as well, which we describe below. This is only a chart for the state of Texas, but there are others that you can find for your respective state if you do a bit of research on the topic.
Other Medical Delivery Models
It’s important to understand the other types of insurance as well. Below are the other three types of insurance that you may run across when shopping for low-cost health care.
PPOs are “preferred provider organizations” that encourage patients to stay within the network, similar to an HMO. However, unlike an HMO,
you do not have to have a primary care physician. You may also go outside the network if you choose to, though the cost will increase for services if you do this. There is a bit more choice for the consumer using a PPO so check to see if the company you are considering will honor this type of plan.
EPOs (Exclusive provider organizations) may be the best bet for many if you do not qualify for Medicaid. This is because it is the least expensive. However, you give up a choice because you are not allowed to go outside the health care network for any reason. When they say “exclusive” that’s what they mean. So you should think carefully about this before deciding to go with this choice.
POS systems borrow from both HMOs and PPOs are often considered a hybrid between the two types of management systems. Like HMOs and PPOs, there is a dedicated network of doctors that provide reasonable health care through a variety of agencies and private insurance companies.
You may choose your doctor, but if you go outside of the network, you will pay more for health care services than if you stay inside the network.
Getting Insurance through Your Workplace
Sometimes you may be able to find suitable health insurance coverage through your employer. While these choices are often limited, if you have a regular job, you can ask your employer what types of health insurance benefits are offered through your place of employment.
Sometimes these programs are relatively low in cost. However, you should find out if they are portable so you can take the plan with you if you leave.
The Good Samaritan Approach
It’s best if you find a health care insurance plan that will allow you to choose your doctor and services, without being bound to a network of doctors and clinicians who may not understand your needs as well as others.
In the event of a medical emergency, hospitals will treat you, but you will be billed for the services and treatments you receive.
Beyond that, you will not be able to seek medical attention if you have no insurance unless you are prepared to pay for it out-of-pocket.
Is insurance a waste of money?
Many people make the argument that health insurance is a waste of money. They often feel that way because they may never use it on a regular basis or they feel that the coverage they have under their plan will not cover what they need it to cover. That being said, think about the cost to you if you were to have to pay for your medical expenses out of your pocket.
You want to take care of your family in every way possible. It’s hard to make ends meet. But one of the best ways you can help your family financially is to have adequate health insurance coverage for those unexpected events such as accidents, broken arms, or chronic illness.
What about catastrophic illness?
Catastrophic illness has been known as the culprit for many families to completely wipe them out financially because they had no insurance and medical costs accumulated into the tens of thousands of dollars before they even knew what was happening.
In fact, it could be said that medical expenses are the main reason that people have to file for bankruptcy or other financial relief through the court systems. They just waited too long to seek out insurance before a critical illness hit them.
Don’t wait too long to do what you know you need to do to keep your family’s financial future intact. Shop and compare on our site where you will find a wide array of different types of health insurance.
If you qualify for Medicaid, you should fill out the paperwork for this immediately so that you can get the full benefits of this free medical insurance program. But many will not qualify based on their income or other reasons. For those people, you must find other options to get coverage for the unexpected health problems that come up.
Low-cost health insurance is an option for families and individuals who cannot afford more expensive health care. The key is to study your options and look at the various factors of several policies to see what is available.
What you don’t want to do is to leave it to chance and hope that the “Good Samaritan” approach will apply to you if you or someone in your family has a catastrophic medical event.
Take action today by studying the various policies, then get a free quote from some of your favorite companies and decide which one is best for you.
Besides looking for a low-cost insurance carrier, look into other ways that you can save on health insurance. You may qualify for other types of discounts with different companies so check and see if any of these apply to you.
Shop and Compare
Start by shopping on our site and looking at the different types of companies. Refer to this article as a guide regarding the various medical models that health insurance companies use, then get your free quote online.
Remember that health insurance is one of the best things that you can do to secure your family’s good health and your financial security.
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