Affordable health insurance is everyone’s goal, right? But maybe you’re not sure how you’ll afford it. If not, there are programs designed to help anyone get health insurance coverage — no matter your income. Check out Benzinga’s guide to health insurance that meets your needs.
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Best Health Insurance for Low Incomes:
- Best for Immediate Support: Cigna
- Best for Nationwide Coverage: BlueCross BlueShield
- Best for Large Network: UnitedHealthcare
- Best for Coverage for Elderly: Kaiser Permanente
- Best for Affordability: Molina Healthcare
- Best Health Insurance for Low Incomes:
- Who Qualifies for Low-Income Health Insurance?
- How Much Does Low-Income Health Insurance Cost?
- Legalities Surrounding Low-Income Health Insurance
- 5 Best Low-Income Health Insurance Companies
- Which Low-Income Health Insurance Option is Right for Me?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Who Qualifies for Low-Income Health Insurance?
Qualifying for low-income health insurance depends on a few factors, including:
- Your household income. If you are married or in a domestic partnership, you’ll need to provide the combined income of both you and your partner.
- The size of your family. Include yourself, your spouse and anyone you claim as a dependent on your taxes. You’ll need to count everyone in your family even if you’re the only one who needs health insurance coverage.
- Health-related factors. You may qualify for some low-income health insurance programs if you have a disability or if you’re pregnant.
How Much Does Low-Income Health Insurance Cost?
The cost of any health insurance policy will depend on a number of factors. First, know a few terms. Each of these factors accounts for a portion of your health insurance costs.
- Premium: The premium is the amount of money you must pay to keep your policy active. Most premiums are due on a monthly basis. You can lower the cost of your premium if you’re eligible for a tax credit or other subsidy.
- Deductible: You’ll also want to pay attention to the deductible with each health insurance plan you consider. The deductible is the amount of money you need to pay out of pocket before your health insurance company contributes toward your medical bills. You must receive a medical service at a provider that is covered by your health insurance plan to have it contribute to your deductible.
- Coinsurance: You may be required to pay coinsurance for your covered medical services. This means that you will be responsible for paying a certain percentage for each medical bill you receive. Your health insurance company will pay the remainder of the bill for any covered services.
- Copay: Some health insurance plans may use a copay system instead of coinsurance. Copays are a set dollar amount you’re responsible for paying after you’ve met your deductible. Your health insurance company will pay the remainder of the bill for your covered medical services.
- Out-of-pocket maximum: Your health insurance plan will also include an out-of-pocket maximum. This number is the maximum amount of money you’re required to pay for your medical services. Your health insurance company will pay 100% of your covered medical expenses until your plan expires if you meet your out-of-pocket maximum. This will reset once you begin a new plan year.
Health insurance companies will set the amounts for all of these factors. In most cases, you can expect to pay a higher premium for a plan with a low deductible. If you want to reduce your premium costs, you might want to choose a plan with a higher deductible. Health insurance companies are only legally allowed to consider certain factors. Your gender, health and medical history cannot be taken into consideration, but they can consider:
- Age: Health insurance companies can’t base your premium on your health and medical history, they can consider your age. Typically, the older you are, the higher your health insurance premium may be.
- Family enrollment: If your plan covers more than 1 person, the health insurance company can charge you more.
- Location: Where you live can drastically affect your premium. State and local rules may play a part in this. You can also expect premiums to change depending on the cost of living and competition in different areas.
- Plan category: There are 5 plan categories: Bronze, silver, gold, platinum and catastrophic. Each plan category offers its own benefit levels. For example, bronze plans typically have higher out-of-pocket costs when you need treatment. Platinum plans offer lower out-of-pocket costs with higher premiums.
- Tobacco use: Your health insurance company is allowed to charge you more for your health insurance premium if you are a tobacco user.
The average monthly premium for an individual in the United States is $440. If you qualify for low-income health insurance, you may have a monthly premium as low as $0.
Legalities Surrounding Low-Income Health Insurance
The most important thing to understand about low-income health insurance is that you can only remain on your plan while you meet the qualifications. If at any time throughout the year your income, household status or disability status changes, you will need to update your information.
If you purchase a health insurance plan through the Marketplace, a change in income can affect the tax credit you’re eligible for. If you earn more money, you may not be eligible for your tax credit any longer. If your income decreases, you may be able to qualify for a larger tax credit or another health insurance program altogether.
If you lose a household member, the savings you qualify for may decrease. It is important to report this change. Otherwise, you may need to pay the savings back when you file your federal tax return. If you gain a household member, you may qualify for additional savings that can lower your monthly premiums. Adding a household member may also make you eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
5 Best Low-Income Health Insurance Companies
Your next step is to find the best health insurance company and plan to fit your needs. Take a look at some of the health insurance companies below to get started.
1. Best for Immediate Support: Cigna
Cigna does not offer health insurance in every state. The company offers coverage for essential medical care and dental insurance. It also offers telehealth services for its members.
Telehealth services offer a quick and easy way to access medical care via phone or video chat. This can come in handy if you run into a routine medical issue and need care that can fit into your schedule.
2. Best for Nationwide Coverage: BlueCross BlueShield
BlueCross BlueShield offers coverage to customers nationwide. It may help to know that you can find a plan with a recognizable health insurance company. You can also take advantage of resources on its website to help you understand health insurance and how to get the best health care.
BlueCross BlueShield has local office subsidiaries that vary between states. If you are considering a BlueCross BlueShield plan, determine who will manage your plan after you purchase one.
3. Best for Large Network: UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is one of the largest health insurance companies in the United States. It offers a large network of participating health insurance providers across a variety of specialties.
This means that there is a good chance that the doctors you currently visit accept UnitedHealthcare insurance. Finding a health insurance company that includes the doctors you already see can make it easy to transition to a new health insurance plan.
4. Best for Coverage for Elderly: Kaiser Permanente
It’s no secret that health insurance companies raise your premiums as you get older. This is why it’s so important to compare plans from different health insurance companies to find the best quotes.
Kaiser Permanente offers premiums that are below average compared to its competitors. You’ll see a difference when you compare quotes for older individuals. This company offers dental, vision and Medicare insurance options in addition to its individual health insurance plans.
5. Best for Affordability: Molina Healthcare
Molina has a history of providing health care to lower-income populations. Molina is not available in every state but it has a large network of providers in the states where it does offer health insurance. Molina’s premiums tend to be lower than many of its competitors.
It also offers wellness services that can provide you with even more savings. These wellness services include discounts for programs designed to help you lose weight and/or quit tobacco use.
Which Low-Income Health Insurance Option is Right for Me?
The number of low-income health insurance options can make it confusing to figure out which option is right for you. Here are a few steps you can take to find your health insurance plan:
- Find the appropriate Marketplace website for your state and fill out an application. Include the most accurate information possible. If you have a question, contact the Marketplace’s customer service team.
- Review the quotes you’re given based on your application.
- Determine which health insurance plan offers the amount of coverage you need within your budget. Consider how often you visit medical providers and fill prescriptions. Compare the out-of-pocket costs you would pay for each medical service with the premium of each plan. Remember to consider each plan’s deductible, coinsurance and copays as well.
Now you’re ready to move forward! Fill out your application and compare several health coverage quotes.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Q: Is health insurance required?
The federal mandate that required health insurance has been lifted but some states have enacted state-level mandates that require residents to have health insurance. Even where not required, health insurance can protect your family against catastrophic healthcare costs and help make routine medical expenses more predictable. Get your most affordable quote through our top providers today.
2) Q: What does health insurance cover?
Most health insurance plans provide the 10 essential health benefits that were part of Obamacare requirements. Coverages include preventive and wellness services, prescription drug coverage, emergency services, ambulatory services, lab services, pediatric services, and more. Many plans cover a wider range of healthcare expenses but may cost more than basic plans or may have higher out-of-pocket costs for some services.Get a custom health insurance quote to cover you and your family today.
3) Q: How can I save money on health insurance?
For healthcare plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act, only a handful of rating factors affect your premium. These include age and location, at least one of which can’t be changed. Smokers will pay more in most cases and your choice of plan level can affect premiums as well. Choosing a high deductible health insurance plan can reduce the cost of premiums. These plans can be combined with a health savings account to take advantage of tax-free savings for healthcare expenses. Get the cheapest health insurance premium from top providers.