Medical insurance is vital to protecting your health and your bottom line, but the unfortunate truth is that insurance can be expensive. For many Americans, private health insurance can come with monthly costs that can range into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. When you add in the need to meet deductibles and cover copay or coinsurance amounts with each service, the cost of health insurance can become pretty steep.
To add to this, health insurance coverage often goes up in price the older you get. Even f you’re in good health, the older you are, the more likely you are to pay extra.
Can You Get Free or Discounted Health Insurance?
Thankfully, many Americans are able to gain access to or qualify for free or discounted health insurance. This can be done in several ways, including through the following:
ACA Marketplace Plans
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes the establishment of a Marketplace repository of health insurance plans that are eligible for government subsidies. If you qualify for one of these plans and enroll through the federal government’s Marketplace, you may be able to receive health insurance with no premium costs or low premium costs. In general, qualifying for one of these types of Marketplace plans requires an individual to below certain income threshold limits.
Medicaid is a government-subsidized health insurance program that covers medical care costs for individuals who are below a certain income threshold. Each state has its own Medicaid requirements, but if you meet them, you can receive 100% coverage for most medical expenses, or at the very least, discounted coverage for many medical care costs. Medicaid often covers dental and vision care in addition to general healthcare, but once again, this depends on your state’s guidelines.
Medicare is another government-subsidized health insurance program, but unlike Medicaid, Medicare’s qualifications have to do with age and disability. For the most part, you can take advantage of Medicare upon reaching the age of 65, but some Americans with qualifying disabilities can access Medicare at a younger age. Medicare offers coverage for a wide range of medical costs, but many plans require a premium payment and the need to meet a deductible. Additionally, some services require recipients to split costs with Medicare.
Another option may be to enroll in a cost-sharing program. These programs are often set up by faith-based groups, but they are not always associated with an established religion. Recipients of cost-sharing plans contribute to each other’s medical expenses according to the terms of the plan’s agreement. This method of pooling money together when needed potentially saves money for recipients while ensuring that medical expenses are covered for things like surgery and cancer treatment.
Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance
Obtaining health insurance through your employer may be another way to receive free or reduced-cost coverage. Some employers cover 100% of their employee’s premiums in a group plan, but others offer access to low-cost plans that save money by utilizing a network of specific providers. As long as you seek out medical care through an in-network provider, you are able to use your coverage to receive discounted care. Out-of-network care may still receive coverage; however, this type of coverage may come at a higher cost.