If you’re hoping to find private health insurance for cheap in the current economic environment, you’re probably going to be somewhat disappointed. Health insurance is increasingly more expensive with every passing year as demonstrated by routine double digit premium increases among people who already have health insurance.
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Of course, the definition of cheap private health insurance is left up to the individual subscriber. If the average monthly premium of $700 for a family plan does not stretch your budget, you might say it’s cheap. For a family with a much tighter budget that annual health insurance premium could break the bank.
Do most consumers have private health insurance?
The U.S. Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both agree that more than 60% of Americans under the age of 65 have private health insurance.
If you’re one of the 5 million who do not have private health insurance, there are several options available.
These options may differ from one state to the next; you’ll need to check with your state insurance department for your county social services to find out what’s available to you.
As an example, the Ohio Department of Insurance lists roughly half a dozen options available in that state. Those options include purchasing more affordable short term coverage, major medical with higher deductibles, and a couple of government subsidized programs. It’s up to each individual family to research options and determine which one is the most affordable.
What government programs are available?
The two most common government health insurance programs are the federally funded Medicaid and Medicare options. Medicare is the more well known of the two, being the option the majority of the nation’s senior citizens avail themselves of. Medicare is designed to provide affordable health insurance plans to those over the age of 65. Subscribers can depend solely on it for their medical care or supplement with private policies.
Medicaid is the federal health insurance plan for individuals and families under the age of 65 who cannot afford to purchase their own health insurance. There are very specific requirements that go along with Medicaid eligibility which include income, family size, and medical history. If your income is relatively low in comparison to the size of your family, you probably won’t have any difficulty qualifying for some level of Medicaid assistance. The biggest downside to Medicaid is that many private practice physicians do not accept it.
Any subsidized state health insurance plans?
Each state approaches health insurance in a different way. In Iowa for example, they offer a program called HIPP. This program is for those who are eligible for Medicaid but would prefer to have private insurance instead. If consumers meet the eligibility guidelines, the HIPP program provides vouchers that help reduce the cost of private insurance. Programs like this are a great way for state governments to help while the same time keeping people off more costly Medicaid plans.
New York State is another good example with its Child Health Plus program. This is a program combining the efforts of both the state and private health insurance companies to offer low cost children’s health insurance programs. Like the Iowa program and Medicaid, there are certain eligibility requirements that apply.
Are there any other options available?
In lieu of private health insurance you do have the option of joining a healthcare sharing organization. These organizations are nonprofits usually organized around a common religious belief or other similar cause. Such organizations typically collect voluntary contributions from members and then use that money to cover health care bills. In some of these plans members might even pay the medical bills of other members directly.
You also have the option of establishing a healthcare savings account in some states. Even without this option you can purpose to set aside several hundred dollars a month in a savings account of your own. Doing so allows you to self-insure, to a certain extent, at whatever rate you can afford every month.
Unfortunately, there really is no such thing as cheap private health insurance in America. It is one of the realities of life we all are forced to deal with. If you don’t have health insurance and can’t afford it, take comfort in the fact that you cannot be turned away by a healthcare facility if you have a life threatening condition. For other conditions most hospitals and clinics will be willing to work with you to establish a formal payment plan.
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