Low-incomes or single income families often find it challenging when it comes to meeting their medical expenses. This is because finding affordable and reliable health insurance can be a time-consuming and often frustrating process.
Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all American families have to buy health insurance or be forced to pay a steep fine. For low-income families, however, the expansion of the ACA programs was designed to cater to their needs by making affordable health insurance available.
Just like you wouldn’t buy an important asset like a car or house without first exploring all available options, the same should apply with health insurance. Below we look at several options available for low-income or single income families for affordable health insurance.
Marketplace Insurance Plan
The Affordable Care Act is meant to offer subsidies for families, middle-income individuals. It also expands free Medicaid coverage for households with low-incomes. Based on your income and household size, you may qualify for savings on deductibles, premium tax credits, copayments, and other types of out-of-pocket costs. Some people who are receiving low incomes may actually wind up paying minimal premiums.
Once you have completed and submitted your Marketplace application, you get an eligibility determination telling you about the type of insurance coverage you and your household qualify for.
Millions are accessing low cost or even free health insurance coverage through Medicaid. These include families with low or single incomes, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Even when you don’t automatically qualify for Medicaid solely on the basis your income, applying for Medicaid is worth the effort as you could be eligible in your specific state’s expanded Medicaid program. The good thing about Medicaid is that you can apply throughout the year as it doesn’t have an open enrollment period.
In states with expanded Medicaid, one might qualify as a single individual if they are earning $16,753 per year or earning $28,676 for a 3-member family. Other family sizes can also qualify but at higher incomes.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
An excellent option through which single mothers can obtain affordable health insurance is the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Commonly known as CHIP, this program is a good option if your income happens to be too high above the limits for Medicaid eligibility. CHIP gives insurance coverage to children up to the age of 19 and you also get a waiver for well-child visits to the doctor.
Regardless of the decision by your state on expanding Medicaid, if your family income is around $47,000 (family of 3), your kids are eligible for Children’s Health Insurance Program. If your state doesn’t have expanded Medicaid and possibly you are unable to get affordable health insurance coverage, you might be exempted from paying a penalty associated with not having insurance coverage.
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, popularly known as COBRA, guarantees you coverage under your employer’s insurance plan on a temporary basis after losing your job. This also covers you when there is a reduction in employment or you are let go. Although COBRA came into effect in 1986, it was actually signed in 1985. It requires companies that have 20 or more employees to offer them as well as their families extended coverage under the COBRA conditions.
COBRA is meant to help you maintain health benefits when specific qualifying events happen which would have otherwise meant your coverage being terminated. As such it’s important to know the eligibility requirements as set by the Department of Labor.
Whether your state has expanded Medicaid or not, you could still qualify for federal assistance if you purchase a health insurance plan through the Marketplace in your state. This amount of assistance you receive could help in lowering your premiums and reduce your out of pocket costs when seeking medical care.
Although in most states marketplace premiums are increasing significantly, if you are eligible for premium tax credits, it should help you cover nearly all (if not most) of the increased cost.
Short-Term Health Insurance
For single mothers who find themselves between jobs or waiting for a new insurance coverage plan to come into effect at a new job, it’s possible to purchase a short-term insurance policy. This becomes a good option in case you need affordable coverage quickly especially if not possible to wait until the new health insurance plan takes effect. It’s also good if you happen to be locked out of the Affordable Care Act open enrollment season.
Riding on Spouse’s Health Plan
If your spouse is on a job-based health insurance plan, you could be eligible for coverage under the same. Many employers generally extend the offer to the spouses, children, and even step-children of their employees. You must, however, sign up during the initial insurance enrollment period when your spouse starts on his or her new job otherwise you might have to wait until the next period.
Through Insurance Agencies
In terms of health insurance plans, several tiers are often available. For example, Platinum, Silver, and bronze offer different health insurance coverage at different costs.
Buying health insurance through an insurance agency is easy and quick as it helps you review all the available options.
Using an insurance agent or broker will help you break down the cost implications.
You will also be getting un-biased professional advice from a team of insurance experts. And of the advice is usually free.
Health Coverage Fast, for example, has access to insurance plans from companies spread across the US. All that an insurance agency will need is information about your insurance requirements and your budget.
Finding affordable health insurance is more about ensuring that you have fully explored and evaluated all the options available from all possible vendors. When it comes to health insurance plans for low-income or single income families, there are more options than what many people think.
Currently, there is an additional 12.3 million Americans enrolled under Medicaid. On top of that, there are several other options such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). With the above options, you are sure to find one (or a combination) that will meet your health insurance needs whether you are a single source income or low-income earner.