Despite the media focus on the current administration’s intention to repeal and replace Obama Care (Affordable Care Act) in 2017 and 2018, it basically remains in place. Other than the repeal affecting the individual mandate penalty, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still in effect with its affordable health insurance options. Those seeking cost-effective health care can continue shopping around during the ACA open enrollment.
Whether unemployed or self-employed, finding affordable health insurance coverage is not only time-consuming but it can also be a frustrating process. Here are several tips and tricks to use in your search for affordable health insurance in 2019.
Compare and Contrast Insurance Packages
No matter your health insurance needs, it pays to compare and contrast the available options by shopping around widely. Insurers are a good option as they normally have a broader range of health insurance policies available than you would typically find on the state exchanges (described below). Most insurers will allow you to see more details, directly compare available plans, and conveniently apply online.
Another good option is an insurance agent or broker as they can offer you expert help towards making the right decision when buying health insurance. Although they lack the personal touch, online insurance finders can also be a good option. A recommended option is Health Coverage Fast.
Consider State Health Insurance Exchanges
If you think you have a chance of qualifying for a state subsidy, it’s best to buy your health insurance through your respective state’s health insurance exchange. You should be eligible for such subsidies if your state is among those which cover people whose income falls below 138% of the estimated Federal Poverty Level.
You may, however, still have some options available off the state exchange that may not qualify for a state subsidy yet meet the standards set by the Affordable Care Act. Some private insurers are offering off-exchange policies with cost-sharing, different affordable premiums, or through other provider networks.
Check if You Qualify for Special Programs
Special programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are designed to offer federally subsidized, low-cost health care for people who qualify. Medicare specifically covers those who are over age 65, while those with lower incomes are covered by Medicaid. CHIP covers children who are not eligible for Medicaid (and their families in some cases) who would otherwise be unable to buy health insurance.
Use a Health Savings Account (HSA)
You can save some valuable dollars through Health Savings Account (HSA)-eligible health plans. The main benefit associated with HSAs is that they’re tax-deductible. Therefore, the money in your account will not only grow tax-free but you can also withdraw the money without having to pay taxes on it. The best way of maximizing this tax break is to keep on regularly adding money to your account—you never know when a medical or any other emergency will come knocking on your door.
Pay Attention to Out-of-Pocket Costs
If a tiered network plan is among your considering, pay great attention to the associated out-of-pocket costs. This includes both the non-preferred and preferred provider tiers. Then crunch the numbers in both directions and read the fine print.
For many people, the most important consideration when looking for a health insurance plan is usually the premium — especially if you are currently healthy. However, even if financial implications are your primary concern, the price shouldn’t be the only factor upon which your selection is based. Before making the final decision, explore all the available options including the level of coverage and convenience. But for affordable health insurance, compare aspects such as deductibles, coinsurance, copay and other crucial factors like lifetime maximums.