If you’re lucky enough to have employer-sponsored health insurance, you don’t need to worry about paying the steep health insurance premiums that many others are responsible for. But what happens when you don’t have employer-sponsored insurance and can’t afford the premiums that come with individual health insurance plans?
Fortunately, there are a handful of affordable health insurance types for those who qualify. Read on to learn more about each.
Medicaid is a government-funded health program required by law to provide medical assistance to low-income families, pregnant women, children, disabled individuals, and people over 65. It’s considered the most affordable option, but you must meet specific eligibility criteria to qualify. These requirements include:
- Must be a U.S. citizen or legal alien with good immigration standing.
- Must reside in the state where they are applying for coverage.
- Cannot currently be an inmate at an institution (but may apply for coverage upon release).
- Must meet income guidelines, which vary by state.
Medicare is another government-funded program that offers affordable health insurance to U.S. citizens and permanent residents aged 65 years and up, as well as younger people with permanent kidney failure that requires a transplant or dialysis, end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and other specific disabilities.
Medicare consists of four parts, the first two of which are offered through the government. The last two must be purchased through private providers:
- Medicare Part A: Covers inpatient hospital stays, hospice care, skilled nursing facility care, and some home health care options.
- Medicare Part B: Pays out for certain doctors’ services, preventive services, outpatient care, and medical supplies.
- Medicare Part C: Also called the Medicare Advantage Plan, this is a combination of all benefits and services in Medicare Parts A and B.
- Medicare Part D: Helps cover prescription medication costs, including most recommended vaccines and shots.
Health Insurance Marketplace
Low-income Americans can search the health insurance marketplace to compare plans for affordable coverage and find out if they qualify for lower premiums, tax credits, or Medicaid. They can also find answers to questions regarding health insurance.
The health insurance marketplace also allows parents to enroll their children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP will cover your children’s healthcare if your family’s income is too high for Medicaid qualification but too low to cover private insurance premiums. In some states, it even covers pregnant women.
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans
While short-term health insurance plans are often considered an affordable alternative to other policies, they’re not designed to be a permanent coverage option. These plans aren’t government-regulated, so the benefits, exclusions, premiums, and coverage limits can vary widely.