Is Affordable Medical Insurance Available to Young People?

There are not many problems with being young.  One of them, however, is that it can be difficult to find affordable medical insurance.  A good health insurance plan is not cheap and will still usually leave you with a large medical bill if you use the plan.  But that doesn’t mean that you have to pass up the opportunity to buy coverage for yourself and/or your family.  There are ways to be able to afford a good plan.  Here are some of best.

Why it is Important to Have Medical Insurance

There are a couple of big reasons to have medical insurance.  For one, in the event that you need medical services, you will owe less out of pocket if you have an insurance plan.  With an insurance company, you will get the benefit of having bills discounted, which you will not receive if you are not covered.  You will be responsible for the entire bill and having to negotiate with the doctor or hospital on your own.

Second, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires every American to be covered by a health insurance plan, or else face a tax.  The requirements for this mandate are not too strict, so finding affordable medical insurance and avoiding the penalty is possible.

Health Insurance Marketplaces

The Affordable Care Act created health insurance exchanges, online marketplaces where individuals can compare plan designs and premiums for plans from various insurance companies.  The idea of the marketplaces is that with a level plan design playing field, insurance companies will get competitive with each other to drive down the cost of insurance.  While the jury is still out on this, the law created another way to find affordable medical coverage on the exchanges.

That would be by giving tax credits to help offset the cost of the insurance premiums.  If you make less than 400% of the federal poverty level and are not eligible for Medicaid, you will receive assistance to pay for the coverage.

The marketplaces are administered by the states.  You can find your exchange here.

Group Coverage

Group coverage has always been a decent way to receive affordable medical insurance.  Employers typically subsidize the premiums and offer a reasonable plan.  Obamacare has made it even easier to afford the cost of a group plan.  The law states that an employer can only charge an employee up to 9.5% of the employee’s salary.  So for someone making $20,000 per year, 9.5% equals $158 per month.  That sounds like a lot, but it is a small percentage of the actual premium.

The Affordable Care Act also states that an employer must offer a plan that pays for at least 60% of the cost of the claims (with the other 40% paid by the member).  A 60% plan will have a large out of pocket exposure, but will keep you from going broke in the event of a major illness or sickness.

Catastrophic Health Insurance

Another way to find affordable medical insurance is catastrophic health insurance.  Catastrophic health insurance has large out of pocket limits, but the premiums are small.  So while the coverage is affordable on a month-to-month basis, it will not be affordable if you have a significant claim event.  But at least you’ll have medical coverage.  Most catastrophic plans will meet the requirements of coverage needed to avoid the individual mandate penalty.

A Parent’s Plan

Obamacare allows children to remain on their parent’s plan until age 26.  Not only is this a way to find affordable medical insurance, it can be a way to get free health insurance.  If a child is already on the plan, there is usually no additional cost to add another child.  This can be a great way for young people to get covered.

Affordable Medical Insurance is Available

Affordable medical insurance is available to young people.  However, affordable can be a relative term.  Healthcare is expensive, and so is the insurance to cover it.  But with some work, you can find a plan that fits your needs and your budget.

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Coins representing the cheapest health insurance options available.

5 Ideas for Cheap Health Insurance for Young Adults

Finding the cheapest health insurance options available can seem like an overwhelming task.  There are numerous insurance companies to search through as well as a long list of plan types to enroll in.

What can make the task harder is finding the time to research and sign up for the plans.  At the end of the day, though, you need to have good coverage at an affordable price.  Here are the best ways to find low cost medical insurance and the cheapest health insurance for young adults.

Short-Term Health Insurance

Between jobs, or just need to make sure you have some low-cost health coverage during a certain point in your life?  Short-term health insurance may be the best thing for you.

Short-term health insurance plans are generally less expensive than qualified major medical health plans, but they do not offer the same level of coverage and usually do not cover pre-existing conditions. They also do not cover the minimum essential coverage of Obamacare, so a short-term plan will not get you off the hook for paying the individual mandate penalty.

Having said all that, short-term plans are a really good idea if you want an inexpensive plan for a short period. Just make sure you understand – and are ok with – the fine print.

Need help finding a great short-term plan? Get a quick and easy quote here.


Medicaid is a government program that helps people with low incomes receive medical services.  Medicaid is administered by the states, and eligibility varies depending on where you live.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Obamacare as it is commonly known, expanded Medicaid, making it easier to enroll.  If Medicaid is something you think you might qualify for, check out your state’s Medicaid website.  Medicaid isn’t the cheapest health insurance, because it is not technically insurance, but it helps pay for the cost of health care needs.

Health Insurance Marketplaces

The health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges as they were first labeled, will not be the cheapest health insurance for everyone, but it can be for some people.  The Affordable Care Act provides tax credits for individuals that makes less than 400% of the federal poverty level.  The credits are graded based on income, and if you are eligible for the subsidy, the marketplaces can be great places to find cheap medical insurance.

Like Medicaid, the marketplaces are administered by the states.  However, not every state participates.  In that case, residents can use the federal exchange.  You can find your state’s exchange here.

Also, not every marketplace is the federal marketplace. There are also private marketplaces that will give you another wide range of enrollment ideas.

To view all of the marketplace options available to you in your area, both federal and non-federal, go here.

Your Parent’s Medical Plan

Another benefit of the Affordable Care Act is that young adults are able to be enrolled in their parent’s medical insurance plan until age 26.  This can be advantageous because many times there is not a huge rate increase to add a child.  If your parent(s) already have another child enrolled in the plan, you can probably be added with no additional cost.  Many group plans have an Employee + Child(ren) rate tier, meaning that a subscriber can add multiple children for the same rate.  The same goes if your parent is in an Employee + Family rate tier.

Not only could this be the cheapest health insurance option, it can also be a free health insurance option.

Catastrophic Health Insurance

You have to be careful with catastrophic health insurance.  On one hand, the premiums will be lower than a plan with lower deductibles and copays.  However, if you have a claim, you will be required to pay more out of pocket expenses.  But if you are looking to at least have some coverage, and you are lucky enough to not have many claims, catastrophic coverage might be the cheapest health insurance available.

Your Employer’s Plan

This option is not available to anyone, but if you are offered a health insurance plan by your employer, it might be the cheapest health insurance that you can get.  Employers that offer group coverage will usually subsidize the cost of the employee’s health insurance premium, many times paying 100% of the cost.  What they pay for dependents, though, is usually a much higher amount.

In addition, PPACA caps the most a company can charge a worker for the employee portion of the premium at 9.5% of the employee’s salary.  This equates to about $89 per month for a minimum wage worker that works 30 hours per week.

Health insurance costs continue to increase, but these options will help you find cheap health insurance for young adults.

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