People with low incomes often end up sacrificing some necessities. Health insurance should not have to be one of them. There are several options available from government agencies and private health insurance companies available.
You can research health insurance rates and get quotes using the free zip code search provided on this page. This tool will give you an idea of health insurance products that may be available in your area.
Statistics show that people who do not have health insurance will not seek out routine health screenings and will delay seeking medical attention when they get sick. This leads to a higher risk of premature death because diseases are often detected to late and treatment options are severely limited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 59.1 million people did not have health insurance in 2010. That is almost 4 million more than in 2008.
What government agencies offer low income health insurance?
There are a couple different government sponsored options available. Deciding which one is right for you will depend on things like age, income, and location. Because these programs are funded by the government coverage may have more limits than a private insurance company.
- Medicaid is a federally funded program. It is managed and run by each state under the guidelines set out for them. These guidelines give them a set minimum for who must be covered but if funds allow a state can offer services to more people. Medicaid offers coverage for men, woman and children under the age of 65. The coverage includes wellness care, doctor’s office visits, inpatient and outpatient services, and family planning. Other services offered will vary from state to state.
- Medicare is health insurance available for those over 65. It is also available to people who become permanently disabled before that age. You will need to have a specific number of quarters of coverage earned during your working years or qualify under a spouse, parent, or child. These are earned when you pay into Medicare through payroll taxes.
Medicare offers basic coverage for free to people who qualify. You can also purchase Medicare Advantage and prescription drug coverage for discounted rates.
Medicare Advantage is a managed care plan you purchase from private companies who have agreements with Medicare. The coverage provided under these plans will vary depending on the company and plan you choose.
Many states also offer state funded health insurance programs for low income individuals and families. Eligibility and coverage will be different in each state. You can contact your state’s Department of Insurance or Social Services to find out more information.
How can I find private health insurance companies that offer low income options?
There are companies that offer policies designed for low income individuals and families that may not be able to qualify for government funded programs. These policies are usually basic care plans and do not offer the extensive coverage of a comprehensive plan.
When you are shopping for health insurance, ask companies about low income options they may have available. Also look to see if they offer basic coverage plans which are available in 25 states for private coverage and 34 states for group health insurance plans or employer provided health insurance plans. These plans may also be referred to as mini insurance plans. Two other options are HSAs and HDHPs, as explained here.
- An HSA or a health savings account insurance plan may be a good option for you as well. These plans work like a savings program that allow you to make tax free deposits and withdraws to pay for expenses related to medical care you receive.
- Many times companies will combine these with a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) or Catastrophic Health Insurance Plan. HDHPs will have a higher deductible than comprehensive plans but lower premiums.
These plans pay out after you meet this deductible but in most cases you would not reach the deductible unless you have a major medical issue arise. When combine with a health savings plan you save up money to pay for medical expenses until you reach your deductible.
What if I still cannot afford health insurance?
With the decline of our economy many government health care programs simply have more applicants than funds. This has resulted in a waitlist for coverage. Many times these people cannot afford even the lowest cost private health insurance either.
If you find yourself without insurance you may need to look for free or reduced priced clinics and health facilities available in your area. These provide routine and basic care on a sliding scale. This means they use your income to decide how much you will need to pay.
Most hospitals offer a sliding scale for emergency room care as well. Emergency rooms are great places if you need immediate care but they do not provide any type of routine or preventive care. You will be required to provide proof of income for these options or that you have qualified for benefits from Social Services.
If you are interested in finding low cost insurance use the free zip code search provided to get free health insurance quotes from different companies available to you.