I often wonder that what is worst, being literally broke and having no roof to live under or having just about enough sustenance and provision for the day but sinking in debt by the day.
Life isn’t easy and making choices gets particularly more difficult when you are finding it hard to make your ends meet. One such difficult choice as to whether or not to go for health insurance when you living hand-to-mouth. Your inner self echoes with the question -” Can’t afford health insurance, what are my options?”
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Further, you might think that health insurance is not important and that you won’t need any in near future because you are young.
Life Hits you Where it Hurts the Most
However, there is no escaping the contingencies of life. The health concerns or medical bills catch you off guard. I personally have been a staunch proponent of health insurance. I believe that going about your daily life without a health cover is like foraying into enemy’s territory without your armor on.
Health Insurance is Widely Undermined
People who are not well off, often try to ditch the health insurance and hustle around thinking that they have made a smart choice by avoiding an expenditure which is not critical to their survival. However, the truth is in stark contrast to this belief.
People who are well of can pay medical bills from their pocket for once, however, people who are broke have no last resort if they are afflicted with a medical problem.
Further, the Affordable Care Act requires you to have health insurance all the time. The ACA makes it easier for people to have health insurance who otherwise can’t afford it from the open market. There is Open enrollment since Obama’s time in the office wherein various insurers create a pool of services; a carnival like affair.
The loan seekers can opt for health insurance via various insurers, enrich their covers and juggle across various health insurance providers at prices which are regulated by a presidential oversight.
If you don’t sign up for health insurance, you may have to pay a penalty under the ACA.
Here’s what could happen if you don’t sign up for health insurance.
What if I Can’t Afford Health Insurance, What are my Options?
If you decide to take on this world without a health insurer having your back, then you are breaking the law and there’s no escaping the long arm of law. The offenders will have to pay a penalty for not having insurance for 2018 i.e. 2.5% of total annual income or $695 per adult; $162.50 per each child under 18, whichever is higher. A maximum of $2085 per family.
Even if the penalty for 2019 has been removed, the people who didn’t have a health cover amid 2018 will have to pay the penalty whilst filing the taxes.
This is a considerable amount, so if you decide to risk it and not go for health insurance, you should factor this amount into your budget. This on the top of any health-related expenditure you accrue over the year.
Here are your Options:-
1. High Deductible Plan
It’s not that you are strapped for choices when it comes to having health insurance. There is a high deductible plan wherein you don’t have to pay high premiums throughout the year. instead, you make up for the less premium as deductibles while filing returns.
This way, you can have increased dispensable income all through the year and you remain insured against surgeries, extended hospital stays, etc.
Even if you go for the highly deductible plan, it would be very difficult for you to cover out-of-pocket costs on your insurance. For instance, if you need to go through an MRI, you will have to pay for the coinsurance costs alongside the deductible. This could mean that the test will cost you several hundred dollars.
It can be disheartening to pay the premium each month but still not be able to go to the doctor. Most of the diagnosis is done proactively to detect and eradicate the illness before it fosters. Avoiding the test and remaining indifferent to the happening changes in your body may prove to e fatal.
It can be daunting to pay your medical bills (partially though as in the case of the high deductible plan), but there are certain things you can do to reduce the amount.
2. Employer-Provided Health Insurance
Your employer-run insurance plan isn’t a bad option by any means. Or, you could find a more affordable health insurance plan by browsing around on your own. When you decide to rock alone, ensure that you plan fulfills the criterion affordable care act.
3. Ditch the Urgent Care and Look Before You Leap
Well, the world is not that mean. Not all General practitioner make a hole in your pocket. You will have to shop around for hospitals, doctors, and clinic but the difference in the pricing compared with the urgent care across the street may surprise you. Further, you will find much lower rates in the testing facilities as well.
If you have an insurance plan, it is advised that you call them and inquire where you can get the lowest rates. When it comes to the medical procedures or diagnosis, many people don’t realize that they can go through the tests other than the centers recommended by the Doctors or practitioners.
4. Set up a Payment Plan
As I said, the world is less mean than we think it to be. Many hospitals and clinics are open to a flexible payment plan wherein they allow you to go through the tests as and when you need it and you are obliged to make monthly payments to cover the deductible.
This situation could be tricky because you have to set up multiple payment plans and the cost can add up quickly. While this payment plan run by various hospitals gives you a sigh of relief, you should make sincere efforts to cover your deductible every year by the means of an emergency fund.
5. Save the Day with Regular Check-Ups
You can save your medical cost by skying up by visiting the doctor regularly and countering problems like cough, cold and flu in the early stages. This will help you to avoid getting admitted to a hospital. This way, frequent visits to the doctor will keep you from running large medical bills in the future.
6. Look for Medicaid
There are many institutions across the major cities which offer sliding scale fees based on your income. Moreover, health insurance should reduce the amount you pay, should get the proper care. If these free clinics find that you have a chronic medical condition, you may qualify for help with the help your bills via Medicaid.
7. Go Off-Exchange
After Trump came into power, the funding for subsidies which the insurers used to extend to low-income consumers was cut off. Instead, of lowering the prices to nullify the effect, some insurers increased the prices to exploit the situation.
However, the ACA also made it mandatory for all insurers to provide a standard coverage under all their insurance covers. Therefore, creating a room for insurance seekers to directly apply for the loan off the exchange and thus seek more affordable options than those given in open enrollment.
8. Join a Group
Just like the wild, remaining with the pack increases your chances of survival manifolds. You can benefit from a group plan undertaken by many professional associations such as an N.G.O, alumni group or even Trade Unions, etc.
If you are a merchant, try reaching out to the local Chamber of Commerce to register or voluntarily enroll yourself into a Trade group. This will get you covered by default.
9. Put Money into HSA
If you go for a high deductible plan, you will be eligible to put your money into a health savings account, which could also lower your AGI. You can contribute a maximum of $3500 before tax and thus avoid entering into a slab with a high tax bracket. Having money into HSA helps with deductibles, copayments, pocket payments and dental care.
Words of the wise
The very belief that one can hustle his/her way without health insurance is nothing but a mere delusion. Having health insurance is something as basic as having clothes on your body. Even if you earn peanuts, you can buy health insurance via open enrollment provided you spend wisely and prioritize your expenses.