How to Find Health Insurance That Is Affordable Under Obamacare

Beginning on January 1, 2014, most of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare will go into full effect.  One of these provisions is the requirement that every American have health insurance or pay a fine.  Therefore, it is very important to find health insurance that gives you the coverage you need at a price you can afford.  But how do you do this?  Despite the controversy about the overall cost of the Affordable Care Act, there are some new ways to find affordable health insurance on an individual level.  Here are 4 ways that you can find health insurance that fits your budget and medical needs.

Reformed Group Insurance through an Employer

Obamacare has reformed the group insurance model.  While originally set to be implemented in 2014, the employer mandate to provide health insurance has been postponed until 2015.  Still, once it is put in place, you will be able to find health insurance through your employer that puts limits on what you pay for the plan and what your out of pocket limits will be.

The Affordable Care Act requires that employers with more than 50 full-time employees offer medical insurance to all of their full-time employees.  Full-time is defined as anyone who works at least 30 hours per week.  There are different calculations that go into the full-time definition, but just know that if you average 30 hours per week, you must be offered coverage.

The coverage that you are offered must have at least a 60% actuarial value, meaning that on average, for every dollar that the insurance covers, the insurance plan must pay for at least 60 cents.  One of the ways this is achieved is by limiting the individual’s out of pocket maximum.  In 2014, the limit is $6,350 and includes deductible, coinsurance, and copays.

Also, the employer cannot make an employee pay more than 9.5% of their salary to participate in the plan.  If you make $2,000 per month, the most you can pay for your insurance is $190.  Having said this, there is no cap on the cost of insurance for a dependent.

Still, with these provisions in place, you can find health insurance that is probably cheaper and better than before.

Health Insurance Marketplaces

Obamacare created health insurance marketplaces – originally called exchanges – to help people find health insurance plans quickly and efficiently online.  The marketplaces will make the search for a good plan easier than looking for individual insurance on your own.  Everything will be in one place.

While it will be interesting to see if the actual premiums of the plan are any cheaper than pre-Obamacare, some people will get help paying their premiums by way of tax credits (see here for tax credit eligibility).

If someone can find health insurance and use a tax subsidy, a good plan at a low rate will be available.

Parent’s Plan

The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to allow children to enroll in their parent’s insurance plan until age 26.  This is very advantageous because many times the cost to add a dependent to a plan is lower than the cost of an individual plan.  In fact, many times a new dependent can be added at no cost since some plans have one premium rate for all children on a plan.  In that case, someone under age 26 can effectively find health insurance that is free.

Medicaid

When Obamacare was passed, it required Medicaid to be expanded in every state.  This expansion will make it easier for adults to find health insurance through this government program.  The Supreme Court took away the requirement, and as a result, many states will not be expanding this coverage.

However, if you live in a state that is expanding Medicaid, check to see if you are eligible for this low cost way to care for medical needs.

Find Health Insurance at an Affordable Rate

When you try to find health insurance at an affordable rate, make sure to be patient and look at all your options.  Good coverage at a reasonable price is available.

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Subsidy for Health Insurance – How to Qualify for Assistance

On October 1, 2013, the health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges, created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will go live for Open Enrollment.  The exchanges will be a great way for individuals and small businesses to find a variety of health plans from a variety of health insurance companies at (hopefully) a competitive cost.

One of the things that helps people, especially young people, afford the premiums on the marketplaces is a tax subsidy for health insurance plans.  Some people will be eligible for this assistance, but not everyone.  Here is how you can have a rough idea if you are eligible for the tax credits.  You must meet all of the following criteria.

No Employer Provided Health Insurance

Obamacare made it mandatory for employers with at least 50 employees to provide all full-time employees with the option of enrolling in their group medical plan.  The plan must pay for at least 60% of allowed charges and no employee may pay more than 9.5% of their salary to purchase the plan.  If an employer offers a plan that fails those two standards, there is a fine they must pay.

The definition of a full-time employee is important in figuring out if you are eligible for a subsidy for health insurance through the exchange.  A full-time employee is defined as someone who average 30 hours per week or more.  There are some calculations that your employer will do to determine hours worked, but in general, 30 hours is a full-time employee.

So, all this to say, that if you are offered coverage at work that meets the two standards above, then you are NOT eligible for a tax subsidy.  If you are not offered coverage, then you still may be eligible for the subsidy.

Annual Earnings

Subsidies are only available to households that earn less than 4 times the federal poverty level. In addition, the amount of the subsidy depends on the household income.  Folks that make less can get a larger subsidy for health insurance in the marketplaces.

Medicaid and Medicare Eligibility

If someone is eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, two government programs that help pay the cost of medical expenses, then that person is not eligible for a subsidy.  A tricky aspect of this rule is that while Obamacare expanded Medicaid coverage, not every state expanded Medicare coverage.  So your eligibility for Medicaid depends on where you live.  You could be eligible in one place, but not eligible in another place.

Medicaid is administered by the states, so check with your local Medicaid office for more information.

How are Subsidies Applied?

For the most part the subsidy for health insurance bought on the exchanges is in the form of tax credits in the following year.  For example, you pay your premium in 2014 and the tax credit is applied on your 2015 tax form.  However, if this arrangement causes a hardship, there are ways to reduce the actual premium.

How to Apply for the Subsidy for Health Insurance

The subsidy for health insurance on the exchanges is designed to be a quick and easy process.  Someone can apply right on the marketplace’s website and find out if they are eligible.  In fact, here is a nifty calculator from Kaiser to help determine if you fit the eligibility requirements.

Find the Best Option for You and Your Family

The marketplaces and the subsidy for health insurance purchased through the marketplaces are designed to make affordable health insurance more available.  However, that does not mean that the exchanges are your best option.  Take a look around to see how you can find the best coverage at a price you can handle.

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Options to Access Health Insurance for Young Adults

With the requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, that every American purchase health insurance or face a tax, there are many young adults that will be looking to access health insurance for the first time in their lives.  There are so many options out there, it can be difficult to choose which is the best way to cover them and their families.  With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to access health insurance that is comprehensive and affordable.

An Employer’s Plan

The Affordable Care Act expanded the eligibility requirement of group plans.  Under Obamacare employers must offer medical coverage to all of their full-time employees, defined as employees working at least 30 hours per week.  If the employer refuses, they will pay a fine.

There are some formulas to determine the hours an employee works, but as long as a worker meets the 30 hours per week mark they will be offered the same coverage options as everyone else.

In addition to being offered coverage, the law requires that the insurance be affordable.  An employer cannot charge more than 9.5% of an employee’s monthly salary to access health insurance at the workplace.  If more than 9.5% is kept out of a paycheck, the employer will face a fine.

A Parent’s Plan

Another big advantage of Obamacare is the requirement that children be allowed to enroll in a parent’s plan until age 26.  Before the legislation was passed it was up to the insurance plan to decide how long children could be covered.  Now, a dependent can be enrolled long enough to give him or her time to establish their own means for paying for a medical insurance plan.

A parent’s plan can be an inexpensive way to access health insurance since many employers subsidize the cost of children on a plan.  If another child is already enrolled, then there usually is no extra cost to add another.

Health Insurance Marketplaces

Obamacare established health insurance marketplaces, online sites designed to help individuals and small businesses access health insurance with ease.  The marketplaces, also called exchanges, will offer 4 levels of plan design from various health insurance companies.  The exchanges are the responsibility of each state, and some states have built their own exchange.  Some others are sending their residents to a federal exchange.

If someone does not have coverage offered at work, earns less than 400% of the federal poverty level, and purchases insurance on the exchange, they will be eligible for tax credits to help offset the cost of the premium.

Individual Insurance

If group insurance and the health insurance marketplaces are not a viable option, there is still the possibility of finding individual insurance on your own.   There will be some legwork involved, as it is not necessarily easy to sort through plan designs from different companies.  However, you will have more options as to which level of insurance plan you would like than you will on the exchange. The coverage bar required to satisfy the individual mandate is not very high, and you can find plans that meet the requirements at a low price, albeit without much coverage.

If you do not want to find individual insurance on your own, you can hire a broker to access health insurance for you.

Medicaid

Before 2014, it was hard for adults in many states to qualify for Medicaid.  However, Obamacare expanded Medicaid to make it much easier to be eligible for assistance through this program.  Like the exchanges, Medicaid is administered through the states, so check with your state’s Medicaid office for more information.

No Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions

Being able to access health insurance is much easier post-2013 than it was before due to the fact that insurance companies cannot deny coverage to people due to pre-existing conditions.  This has made it less complicated to find a quality plan at a reasonable price.

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Health Insurance for Unemployed Young Adults

Anyone—especially a young person—who has ever been without a job knows the immense stress that can overwhelm your life.  One of the biggest worries is how medical bills will be paid.  After all, the easiest way to be covered with medical insurance is to be a part of a group plan.  There are less pre-existing condition exclusions to worry about, and an employer will usually subsidize the cost of the plan, making it much cheaper than going out on your own and buying an insurance policy.  However, if the day comes that your job is no longer around, know that comprehensive health insurance for unemployed young people can be found at an affordable rate.  Here are ways to make that happen.

COBRA Health Insurance for Unemployed

If you worked for a company that employs more than 20 people, then COBRA insurance is available.  COBRA allows former employees to continue on the medical plan that they were a part of when they were employed.  The access to quality insurance is a good thing about COBRA.

However, there is a significant downside to this form of health insurance for unemployed young people, and that is the cost.  To be on a COBRA plan, you are required to pay the entire monthly premium of the plan (plus 2% for administrative costs).  Since the premium was most likely partly paid for by the company, the cost of COBRA insurance will be a big jump from what was being paid previously.

Parent’s Plan

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as PPACA or Obamacare, allows people to be enrolled on a parent’s plan until the child reaches age 26.  This can be a terrific option of health insurance for unemployed young people.  If your mom or dad has group insurance, they can enroll you in their plan if you lose your job.

The upside of this is that to add a child to a plan is not very expensive.  In fact, if another child is already on the plan then there will probably not be an additional cost.

Marketplace Health Insurance for Unemployed Young Adults

The Affordable Care Act set up health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges, where people can go online and shop for health insurance.  The exchanges might be a good option if a young person is having trouble finding good, affordable coverage elsewhere.

The marketplaces can be a great place to find health insurance for unemployed young people since the federal government provides tax credits to individuals that earn less than 400 percent of the poverty level but are not eligible for Medicaid.  Many unemployed young people will fall in this category.

The marketplaces are also good places to find health insurance for your children.

Medicaid

While Medicaid isn’t technically health insurance for unemployed young people, it can be a good way to help pay for medical expenses.  Medicaid is administered by the states, and eligibility varies by state.  PPACA expanded Medicaid eligibility, but not every state has implemented the new Medicaid rules.

If your child needs Medicaid, but you are not eligible, CHIP insurance is available.

If Medicaid or CHIP is something you are interested in, check out your state’s Medicaid website.

Find Health Insurance One Way or Another

With the cost of health care continuing to rise, quality and affordable health coverage is needed.  Fortunately, finding health insurance for unemployed young adults is not as difficult as it used to be.  Government programs and group plans are available to keep from going broke when you least can afford it.

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Health Insurance for Low Income Earners – Where to Find Coverage

As most everyone knows, health insurance is not an inexpensive purchase.  Medical services continue to increase in cost, and the essential benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Obamacare as many know it, have made the cost of medical plans increase dramatically.  Even with new measures in place to keep premiums in check, it is difficult to find low cost health insurance.  However, health insurance for low income earners can be affordable and comprehensive enough to provide good coverage is medical services are needed.  Getting sick should not mean going broke, and here are some ways to avoid that.

Health Insurance Marketplaces

The health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges as they were originally known, are great opportunities to obtain health insurance for low income households.  Through the marketplaces, individuals, families, and small businesses will be able to compare multiple medical and prescription drug plans and premiums side-by-side.  Not only is this a convenient way to purchase health insurance, but people with low incomes will be able to receive help paying the premiums.

If an individual makes less than 4 times the poverty level, he or she will be eligible for tax credits to help offset the cost of the insurance plan.  The online marketplace enrollment site will walk people through the process of determining if they are eligible for the subsidy.

Check here to see if an exchange is something that might suit your needs.

Mom or Dad’s Medical Plan

If the goal is to obtain health insurance for low income young adults, it is worthwhile to look into the medical plan of their parents.  The Affordable Care Act allows people to stay covered on their parent’s insurance plan until they reach age 26.  So if you are an adult, but under age 26, and you’re looking for a way to afford good healthcare coverage, your parent’s plan will be a great low cost, or even cheap, health insurance option.

If another child is already covered on the parent’s plan, the extra child many times will be able to be covered without an additional cost.  In essence, this is a no-cost way to obtain health insurance for low income young people.

Increase Out of Pocket Exposure

One of the easiest ways to find affordable health insurance for low income earners is by finding a plan with high out of pocket provisions, such as deductibles and copays.  This leaves less risk for the insurance company, thus the premium will be lower.

Of course, a plan with a high deductible is risky for the policyholder.  The plan may be inexpensive, but if a sickness or accident comes about, there will be a lot of money owed to doctors and hospitals.  However, the billing office of a healthcare provider will many times work out a payment plan over a period of months; if a health insurance premium is not paid, the policy will be cancelled.  There is a chance of a high medical bill if a plan with high out of pocket provisions is purchased, but at least the plan will be affordable.

Medicaid

If health insurance for low income residents is not affordable, Medicaid could be a viable option.  Medicaid is administered by the states, so eligibility is different all over the country.  PPACA expanded Medicaid coverage in 2014, so check with your state’s Medicaid office to see if you are eligible.

Health insurance for low income earners does not have to be unaffordable.  Take a look around and affordable and comprehensive coverage can be found.

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