The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most commonly referred to as Obamacare, now legally requires every American citizen to purchase health insurance. Because of the astronomical premiums, many low-income families are freaking out over balancing their new insurance payments with their other essential expenses.
But there are options. Below low-income options for obtaining health insurance without breaking the bank are dissected and discussed in greater detail.
Healthcare Options for Low-Income People
Medicaid is one of the most common healthcare options for low-income families and individuals. Though not everybody qualifies for Medicaid, those that do can greatly benefit from it.
Medicaid is simply a program that provides free or low-cost health insurance to those in need. Eligibility is mostly based off of family size and overall family income. Some states have recently expanded their Medicaid programs to cover more people and increase eligibility.
You are considered covered under the new Obamacare healthcare laws if you have Medicaid coverage. You are not required to purchase one of the many Marketplace plans.
Every state provides Medicaid health coverage for low-income families, children, and individuals along with some pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Many states have new regulations in place that provide Medicaid coverage to all adults that make an income below a certain level.
Medicaid programs follow specific and strict federal guidelines. However, these can vary slightly from state to state. Your best bet to figure out if you qualify for Medicaid and what the specifics of your state’s coverage are, is to visit your state’s Medicaid website.
It’s important to note that even those who did not qualify for Medicaid in the past could qualify for it under the current rules.
Fee for Not Having Obamacare
Because the government now mandates Obamacare, those that opt to go without insurance in 2014 must pay a penalty fee. This fee comes out to $95 per adult or $47.50 per child. It can also be calculated as 1 percent of your taxable income.
This fee for not having Obamacare is further set to increase every year. In 2015, it will rise to 2 percent of your annual income or roughly $325 per person. 2016 will have the fee at 2.5% of a person’s annual income or $695 per person. After that the fee will be adjusted for inflation.
Many of those that are low on money or uninterested in purchasing healthcare coverage might opt to pay the fee instead of a monthly insurance premium. While it some cases this might mean a smaller amount paid, it is generally not the best course of action.
For one thing, there are cheap health insurance options out there. You just have to look for them. If you are opting not to buy health insurance because you don’t have the money, then you might be eligible for reduced price healthcare or even free healthcare.
Furthermore, if an accident or illness arises and you need medical attention, you will need to pay astronomical out of pocket prices if you don’t have insurance. You will have to pay for the entire cost of your medical care and you won’t be protected from very high medical bills. In many cases, paying for these bills without insurance ends in bankruptcy.
Find a Healthcare Option You Can Afford
Fortunately, there are a lot of resources out there that can help you research the various healthcare premiums.
Before making a final decision, you should look thoroughly through these different resources. Many of them can be found online. One of the absolute best is HealthCare.gov. The website offers a plethora of accurate information on the different premiums and plans and how to find the best one for you and your family. A sub-page on the website, Where Can I Get Free or Low Cost Care in My Community, further discusses finding the best possible healthcare in your local community.
Another excellent resource for those looking into the various healthcare options provided under Obamacare are HRSA health centers. Even if you do not currently have any health insurance, these local centers will help you look through your options and find the best fit. Furthermore, many of them provide low cost medical treatment to those that are low income and without insurance. You can find out more about your own community health center here.
EHealthInsurance.com is another valuable resource that can help you look at the different healthcare options in your state. They separate information on a state by state basis and even allow you to search for options by zip code for the most personalized results possible.
Everyone has a different opinion about Obamacare. But whether you agree with it or strongly oppose it or have another point of view, there is no getting around it. It’s a law that now requires every American citizen to have healthcare coverage or pay a hefty fee.
Luckily, there are plenty of options for low-income individuals and families that are seeking healthcare coverage. Many of these options are affordable and will keep your family safe, healthy, and happy without breaking the bank.
Remember, if you have any questions, your best bet is to talk to an expert with healthcare. Such experts can be found at a local insurance office, your local community health center, or even online.
Though it can be worrisome trying to factor healthcare payments into your current budget plan, there are so many options out there that there is a good chance you will find one that works well for you.